Concerns by Clovis City Councilmembers about traffic and aesthetics have delayed — if not blocked — a proposed 12-unit apartment complex.
Monday night, the council denied the project on a one-acre vacant plot of land on Alluvial Avenue, east of Sunnyside Avenue, on a 3-1 vote. But, the council asked staff to come up with fixes for a possible future vote.
The land is zoned for single-family homes, requiring a rezone to build multi-family housing on the land. The land is owned by Arman Zakaryan, who is represented by Fresno area planning consultant Dan Zack.
The density change provided heartburn for councilman Matt Basgall.
“Changing an existing neighborhood, that’s my issue. That’s my biggest concern. I’m all for people having an opportunity for people to live in Clovis. But we also have obligation to the people who already have purchased their homes in Clovis and what we put around them,” Basgall said.
Councilwoman Lynne Ashbeck said the two-story apartments did not fit in the neighborhood of single-family homes.
Traffic issues provided unease for Basgall and councilman Drew Bessinger. A staff report said the increase would be minimal.
Vong Mouanoutoua talked about the need for housing, especially with expected students from nearby California Health Sciences University. He also defended building “multi-family” units.
“People deserve a chance to live in our great city. We need to build diverse housing options. I think this is an excellent opportunity,” Mouanoutoua said.
Ashbeck, Basgall, and Bessinger voted to deny the project; Mouanoutoua opposed the denial. Councilwoman Diane Pearce was absent.
Clovis Council Says No To Making Tax Hikes Harder
A statewide proposition that would make raising taxes more difficult found no support among the conservative Clovis City Council.
By a 4-0 vote, the council supported a city staff plan to oppose the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act. The proposition (it has not been assigned a number yet), supported by the California Business Roundtable, qualified for the ballot on Feb. 1. It will be on the November 2024 ballot.
Among other things, the act would require voters to approve any new or increased tax approved by the state Legislature. It would also require a two-thirds threshold for local or state taxes proposed through the initiative process.
The latter would have undone a state Supreme Court ruling that allowed Fresno’s Measure P sales tax increase to pass. During the 2018 election, it was unclear if a simple majority or two-thirds was needed to pass. Although Measure P received 52%, it initially was deemed to fail because the city believed it needed the higher margin. The high court overruled, allowing the parks sales tax to take effect.
There was concern that the proposition as written could apply to raising fees for services as well. Staff did not have a definitive answer, but said there are lots of challenges if passed.
“They are trying to fix too many problems with one bill,” Bessinger said.
If approved, the proposition could nullify Measure B, passed by Clovis voters in 2022 which raised the hotel tax by 2%. The new proposition would also require taxes to have a sunset date, which Measure B does not.
“You couldn’t do anything,” Ashbeck said.
Opposition and Support
Several union and government groups also oppose the proposition. The groups call the increased tax threshold “deceptive” and said it benefits special interests.
The state Republican Party calls for the higher threshold in its platform (see page 12).
“We support without exception and without apology a two-thirds vote requirement for tax increases, tax increases labeled as fees, bonds, and the state budget,” the platform reads.
All five members of the Clovis City Council are registered Republicans.
Ashbeck, Bessinger, Basgall, and Mouanoutoua voted in favor of opposing the act. Pearce, president of a local Republican women’s group, was absent.