The 7-Eleven near Fresno City Hall can be a busy place. Too busy for one city councilman.
During Thursday’s meeting, Miguel Arias used his council report time to bash the convenience store’s operation.
“It’s a textbook case of a business that’s clearly violating the conditions of the permit that requires them not to be a nuisance and not to allow loitering to take place. Every day that we come into this building, all our employees, everyone who uses the Greyhound or Amtrak, has to see folks sleeping against the building inside the property, defecating on a daily basis,” Arias said.
Arias said the city has spent “thousands” cleaning the mess. He asked the city attorney “to proceed with the actions, the steps necessary to engage in revocation of their conditional use permit.”
“It’s time for us to hold the folks accountable,” Arias said.
Arias also complained of a horn at the 7-Eleven that is allegedly used to clear the homeless. “They’re not cattle. They’re not animals,” Arias said.
Politics 101 reached out to 7-Eleven’s corporate office for comment but did not receive a response.
Also in Politics 101 …
- Clovis says no to a liquor license.
- Arias says no to COVID-era rules.
Clovis Council Denies Alcohol License
Usually, developer George Beal is appealing for the right to sell alcohol at his convenience store locations. In Clovis, he was on the other end — asking the city to deny a competing business its right to sell alcohol.
Orlando Ramirez of Bottom Line development wants to open a 24-hour gas station/convenience store/fast food restaurant, across the street from a Beal Chevron/Johnny Quik. The location is at a proposed shopping on Temperance Avenue, north of Highway 168 and Clovis Community Medical Center. The planning commission approved it last October; Beal appealed.
“I think putting another store across the street that sells alcoholic beverages is not really helping the necessity and convenience because that already exists. So that was my reason for doing this,” Beal told the city council.
Police also expressed concern about a saturation of alcohol sellers.
The council heard the appeal Tuesday and voted 4-1 to uphold the planning commission decision for a 24-hour store but without the right to sell alcohol. Vong Mouanoutoua, Drew Bessinger, Matt Basgall, and Diane Pearce voted yes; Lynne Ashebeck was the no vote.
Arias Joins Bredefeld in Wanting Councilmembers on the Dais
In the post-pandemic era, the Fresno City Council must renew emergency rules that allow it to bypass certain open meeting laws. Every month, the council votes to confirm emergency conditions. The most practical effect is allowing members to participate remotely and not have to share their location and invite the public.
Usually, Councilman Garry Bredefeld opposes. He still does. What turned heads on Thursday was Miguel Arias calling for an end to the practice.
Arias argued that if staff have to be at City Hall in person, so should councilmembers
“We needed to be consistent in our communication and our message to the public, and we also needed to set the example,” Arias said. “It’s contrary to setting the example for the public, if we’re going to say the same burdens and benefits that we impose and expect for our employees and the public, we’re not going to honor ourselves.”
City Council President Tyler Maxwell dissented.
“I disagree completely with you,” Maxwell said. “That puts the councilmembers in a tough position. If they want to vote, they’re either going to have to come in here and potentially expose all of city staff or if they stay home and they notice it, they could be exposing the public to a potentially deadly virus.”
The irony of Arias and Bredefeld occupying the same page on the issue wasn’t lost on their colleagues.
“It is a cold day in your know where when we got Arias and Bredefeld in agreement on COVID,” Maxwell said, one of many who joked about Arias spearheading the issue.
State law does give some leeway to continue with remote participation exempt from the state’s open meeting law, the Brown Act. City attorney explanations of the law seemed to confuse more than enlighten.
The council voted 5-2 to renew the emergency order for another month. Arias and Bredefeld voted no.
Either way, the public can still participate in meetings through Zoom. That was a permanent feature previously approved by the council.