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How to End Fresno Housing Crisis? Build, Build, Build, Say City Leaders

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Photo of apartments being built.
City councilman Tyler Maxwell says Inclusionary zoning, which sets aside a percentage of affordable homes in market-rate tracts, isn't on his radar. (AP File)
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What do Fresno Mayor Jerry  Dyer and members of the city council see as solutions to the Fresno housing crisis in the next year?

GV Wire posed the question at Dyer’s State of the City address last week. Generally, they said that a mix of housing — affordable, market-rate, tiny, in-law units — is needed as soon as possible.

Watch: City Leaders Share Their Housing Solutions

Mayor Jerry Dyer

“Well, build, build, build in terms of housing. And we need all types of housing. We need affordable housing, market-rate housing. We need to build in our inner cities multifamily. We need to build up and as well as out. There is no time today to be restricting any type of housing in our city,” Dyer said.

Dyer continues to work on a tax-sharing agreement with the county so that the city can expand its borders.

“It’s time that we continue with our annexation efforts with the county, making sure we have a good, solid tax sharing agreement in place that benefits us both financially so that we can annex additional property not only for housing but for economic development and bringing in manufacturers and industry,” Dyer said. “So we have a lot of work to do over the next several years. But the One Fresno housing plan is going to be our guide, our roadmap, over the next three years.”

Luis Chavez, District 5 (southeast Fresno)

“We’re breaking ground next month on Peach and Jensen. We’re actually doing single-home residential with ADU (accessory dwelling units) units attached to them already, kind of like a mother-in-law setup. So I think that’s going to be one of our biggest, newest, more innovative products to add bedroom communities here in the city of Fresno,” Chavez said.

The new residences are being built by Realty Concepts of Fresno.

“This will actually be one of the first projects that they build in Fresno. They’ve actually already built something in Reedley,” Chavez said.

Tyler Maxwell, District 4 (east-central Fresno)

“What’s going to be important is that we have a mixed portfolio when it comes to the type of housing stock in District 4. Single-family houses for those professionals that are young and they want their first home with a lawn. But also mixed-use housing, affordable housing, so that we can include anybody and everybody that wants to live in central Fresno,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell said that inclusionary zoning “hasn’t come up on my radar.” The controversial policy would require homebuilders to set aside 10% to 20% of homes in new tracts and price them well below what neighboring home-buyers pay. Some builders consider this a “tax” on market-rate buyers.

“I have not considered (inclusionary zoning) seriously at this point,” Maxwell said.

Garry Bredefeld, District 6 (northeast Fresno)

Bredefeld said government policies, especially Fresno’s reaction to the pandemic, created the housing crisis.

“They threw everybody out of work and shut everybody’s business and then they threw them on government checks. We have 10 million unfilled jobs throughout the entire country and now government says we’re going to come and help you and we’re doing that on the local level. Bottom line is, they ought to get out of the way, reduce the regulations and not continue to just throw money at the problem in terms of homelessness. And that’s what’s happening right now. And I think, frankly, that’s what we’re seeing with this new plan as well,” Bredefeld said.

Miguel Arias, District 3 (southwest Fresno, downtown)

Arias said housing is his top concern for his constituents for the next year.

“Our top priority will continue to be to finish the construction projects that we have in affordable housing. In my district alone, I’ve initiated 22 new housing projects, both market-rate and affordable, and shelters for the homeless. We’ve only completed two of those so far. My hope is to complete all the remaining 20 in my next term,” Arias said.

He is up for re-election in the June 7 primary.

Mike Karbassi, District 2 (northwest Fresno)

“We have to continue building multifamily housing, single-family housing, tiny homes. We need more supply,” Karbassi said.

He also criticized inclusionary zoning, calling it an “activist” policy.

“What that means is middle-class families are going to have to pay more because of basically getting a tax to pay for what’s called affordable housing for others. And that’s not fair. We need to cut the price of housing by increasing competition, increasing supply. It’s really simple. So if we just do what we’re supposed to do, we’ll be able to build our way out of this problem,” Karbassi said.

Neither Esmeralda Soria (District 1, west Fresno) nor Nelson Esparza (District 7, central and east Fresno) was available for interviews on the housing crisis at the State of the City address.

David Taub has spent most of his career in journalism behind the scenes working as a TV assignment editor and radio producer. For more than a decade, he has worked in the Fresno market with such stops at KSEE-24, KMJ and Power Talk 96.7. Taub also worked the production and support side of some of TV sports biggest events including the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals and NASCAR to name a few. Taub graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email