Fresno Councilman Balks at Mayor’s North End Pick for Planning Board
The Fresno City Council approved Jacqueline Lyday, a real estate agent with London Properties, to the planning commission at Thursday’s meeting. But the 6-1 vote came after City Councilman Miguel Arias questioned whether Mayor Jerry Dyer’s administration was recruiting the best applicants.
“The vast majority of planning commissioners were from north Fresno, making decisions for the rest of the city without hearing their voices,” Arias said.
Deputy Mayor Matthew Grundy responded: “it’s always the intention to choose representation from some of our more marginalized and disadvantaged communities.”
Lyday lives in District 6 — north Fresno. She replaces Robert Fuentes, from District 3 — downtown Fresno. Fuentes resigned last month to avoid a conflict of interest after winning a seat to the State Center Community College District board.
Related Story: Fresno Commissioner Resigns Over Potential Conflict
Watch: Fresno Planning Commission Approves UCLA Graduate Jacqueline Lyday
The seven-member lineup has three commissioner in District 2 (northwest Fresno) and one in District 6 (northeast). Another appointment could happen this year. Brad Hardie’s term expired last year. City rules allow a commissioner to remain serving until a successor is named.
Arias pressed Grundy about why more commissioners from other parts of the city — and those without potential conflicts of interest — are not nominated.
Grundy said they are always seeking applicants who are “willing” and “able” to serve. He said conflicts of interest are inevitable. It is up to the commissioners, Grundy said, to “self-police” and recuse themselves when a conflict arises.
Arias wanted nominations from members of the individual district project review committees, calling them the “farm team.”
“We need those folks to apply,” Grundy said.
Lyday: ‘Respectful’ of Arias
Lyday, a 38-year old Republican, said city planning has “always been an interest to me.”
She watched the debate about her appointment, including Arias’s criticisms.
“I think he is doing the best thing that he can do in order to protect his district and to get more people involved in his district … I’m very respectful of his wishes and I understand why he did it,” Lyday said.
Lyday said she does not believe being in real estate presents any more conflicts of interest than another profession.
“I will do my best to monitor and ensure that if there is any conflict, I’ll recuse myself just like anybody else,” she said.
City Councilman Mike Karbassi had faith in Lyday.
“I think someone with this kind of qualification has the ability to fill out a Form 700 (financial disclosure document) and check themselves to make sure they’re not conflicted out as far as I’m concerned. In all seriousness, this is a very highly qualified applicant,” Karbassi said.
City Councilwoman Annalisa Perea defended Lyday from the dais.
“I have no problem supporting a strong woman of color (Lyday is Hispanic) with a long standing history of community service. She has a great background in land use with knowledge of how our general plan works,” Perea said.[Note, 2/25/23: the original story stated Lyday was 39. She is 38. The story has been updated.]
Also in Politics 101 ..
- Culture clash over LGBT funding.
- Budget update centers around cannabis.
- Airport funding approved.
LGBT Culture Clash on Funding Vote
An item to grant $100,000 of taxpayer funds to the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission LGBTQ+ Resource Center turned into a cultural clash.
The item passed 6-1 at Thursday’s Fresno City Council meeting. City Councilman Garry Bredefeld objected. He asked two resource center representatives to explain what services the center would provide.
Bredefeld focused his questioning on what kinds of gender affirming care services the center planned to offer. Jennifer Cruz, the center’s project manager, said it was mostly about navigating the legal needs — such as filling out paperwork — more than medical. She told Bredefeld it is generally adults seeking those services, and not minors.
“I’m very uncomfortable with this, with gender affirming guidance,” Bredefeld said. “I know its en vogue, to push this gender affirming care for young people who struggle with identity issues.”
Cruz replied, “no one is pushing gender affirming care.”
In a testy exchange, Cruz reminded Bredefeld that he did not attend the LGBT flag ceremony at City Hall last year.
Annalisa Perea, an openly gay member of the council, kept a calm demeanor. She defended spending the money.
“What you guys are doing, you’re saving lives. And I wish this was available when I was younger,” Perea said.
I will always oppose this radical agenda of sexualizing our children and will never back down. Ever. https://t.co/2DtNpmA1QW
— Garry Bredefeld (@GarryBredefeld) February 23, 2023
Fresno Budget: Funds are Dwindling
Fresno’s mid-year budget prompted mixed reactions during a presentation Thursday to the City Council. The city will finish the fiscal year in the black, but barely.
Estimated sales tax revenue for Fiscal Year 2023 (July 1-June 30) is $8 million (5%) lower than what was projected last year. Property tax estimates are up by $8 million (5%).
The ending balance is just $1 million in the black. There was some debate what the final amount may be.
“If we’re going to go down the path of a doom and gloom kind of narrative, then I’m going to say let’s do hiring freezes and terminate vacancies,” City Councilman Miguel Arias said.
City Councilman Mike Karbassi wants the city to tighten its belt before dipping into any reserve funds.
Cannabis revenue is 60% lower than what was projected, by nearly $3.2 million. Up to 21 licenses are allowed; only 19 have been issued and only two retail stores have actually opened.
City Councilwoman Annalisa Perea asked what is the city doing wrong.
A lack of timelines in the cannabis ordinance could be slowing openings, City Manager Georgeanne White said. She said there is some leeway in what her office can do to move things along at a quicker pace.
“While it’s great that we have people who are wanting to go into … older buildings and do a pretty significant rehab, what we have found is they don’t quite know what they’re getting into,” White said.
Retailers also need conditional use permits and building permits in addition to city retail licenses. White says the city has been meeting its timelines to approve permits.
City Councilman Nelson Esparza called the cannabis overestimates “insanity.” He suggested a need to go after the illicit market.
Airport Funding Approved
An expansion of the Fresno Yosemite Airport, already on the books, had $126 million in construction contracts with Q&D Construction approved by the Fresno City Council.
The contracts will expand the terminal, which includes building a Concourse B, expand the screening area, build a new international arrivals facility, and a “state-of-the-art” baggage handling system.
The airport served 2.1 million travelers in 2022.