Several speakers related to nearby Rivendell Community Day Care expressed concern over potential noise and the health of their loved ones.
In May, the Fresno Planning Commission approved plans for a Surf Thru car wash at the northwest corner of McKinley and Fine avenues. Currently, it is an empty lot in front of professional offices.
Councilman Tyler Maxwell, who represents the area, appealed the planning commission decision to the full city council. He also appealed the original planning department approval to the commission.
“The proposed project is expected to be injurious to the property immediately adjacent to the proposed project and as such could adversely affect the surrounding area. I find the project does not comply (with the municipal code),” Maxwell said.
The vote was 6-0. Councilman Luis Chavez was absent.
Neighbors also appealed, based on environmental grounds. The car wash would been built next to office buildings.
Jason Hamm, who works as an attorney for a nearby property owner, was one of several objectors who spoke Thursday.
“We are very concerned about the noise. We are very concerned by the traffic,” Hamm said.
Brady McGuinness, representing the car wash, told the city council that they have gone “way beyond” to conduct studies and reach out to the neighborhood. He said the car wash would be near the airport, and zoned in a light industrial area.
“I’m not some big, bad developer,” property owner Mohamad Assad said. “I would just like to be able to do what is permitted.”
Also in Politics 101 …
- Where did two councilmembers zoom in from?
- When will DA, sheriff be elected? Voters to decide. Arias questions.
- Hurtado is in for congressional race.
- Bitwise bankruptcy case update.
Karbassi Zooms In, Chavez Waits Until He is Back in America
Councilmember Mike Karbassi and Luis Chavez weren’t in chambers for Thursday’s meeting. Both were on an official city trip to Münster, Germany. Karbassi was able to participate using Zoom from Frankfurt.
Chavez was a no-show for the first portion of the meeting. He took part via Zoom from Dallas after the city council resumed the meeting after 2 p.m.
Karbassi was a no-show after the meeting resumed. He did return for a closed session.
State law allows remote participation to comply with open meeting laws, known as the Brown Act. Prior to the pandemic, such appearances needed to be properly noticed on the agenda, and allow the public to attend wherever the elected official participated from.
State emergency orders issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom during the pandemic eased those restrictions. A state law extended the eased rules through Jan. 1, 2026.
Voters Will Decide When DA, Sheriff Are Elected
Without much fanfare, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors placed an item on the March 5, 2024 ballot, asking voters to change the election date for the district attorney and sheriff back to 2026.
A 2022 state law moved the elections for most counties in California to 2028 — meaning those elected in 2022 including DA Lisa Smittcamp and Sheriff John Zanoni — would serve a one-time six-year term.
Supervisor Steve Brandau introduced the measure Tuesday, saying voters can focus on those offices in a midterm election better than in a presidential election. He also said the state “overstepped” its authority over charter counties like Fresno.
No other supervisor or member of the public commented. The vote was 5-0.
Voters in March will decide whether to change the county charter to expressly determine when county elections will take place.
Arias Questions Decision
Fresno City Councilman Miguel Arias, running for supervisor in 2024, questioned the legality of the vote.
“I find it highly suspicious that the sheriff and district attorney who have endorsed the supervisors for reelection have now been gifted with a charter amendment that is asking voters to violate state law,” Arias told Politics 101.
Arias also asked Fresno City Attorney Andrew Janz to draft a memo on the legality of the people voting to change the charter.
“It’s clear that city of Fresno residents represent more than half their county. And if the county is going to violate state law and ask the voters of Fresno to violate state law and pick up the legal bill, then our city has a fiduciary responsibility to evaluate whether we need to legally challenge the county’s action,” Arias said.
If Arias’s objections are echoed by other litigious parties, a successful vote next March could be challenged. The ultimate question is how much power a charter county has over state law.
Charter counties — such as Fresno — have more authority to set their own laws than have them imposed by the state. The charter currently says election dates will conform to state law. Whether voters can change the election date after the state law was passed may be up for a judge to interpret.
Hurtado Officially Running
After filing paperwork to raise funds for a congressional run, Melissa Hurtado launched her campaign on Tuesday.
“I’ve learned that it can be hard to get the attention we deserve for the Valley’s needs,” Hurtado, a Democratic state senator from Bakersfield said in a news release. “But I have refused to take ‘no’ for an answer, pushing for more resources for clean and reliable water, safer communities, and better healthcare. And you know what? When you’re not scared of your own shadow like most politicians and refuse to back down, you can prove the naysayers wrong and get things done.”
Hurtado is not only running against incumbent David Valadao, R-Hanford, for the 22nd Congressional District seat, but she will also challenge fellow Bakersfield Democrat Rudy Salas.
Valadao beat Salas 51.5%-48.5% in the 2022 election.
Several prominent Democrats, including former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, are backing Salas.
Bitwise Case to Remain in Delaware
A Delaware bankruptcy judge denied a motion to move the Bitwise Industry case to Fresno.
Judge Mary Walrath ruled that the trustee — the court-appointed administrator handling the case — already put in enough work in the case and moving would cause a disruption.
“In this post-COVID new world, the actual location of the court is much less significant. All creditors are able now to participate in the 341 rulings and hearings, regardless of whether the case is venued,” Walrath ruled from the bench in Wilmington, Delaware.
A group of Central Valley-based creditors petitioned the court to move the case for Fresno, mainly out of convenience.
Bitwise and its creditors are meeting in mediation. The court, on Wednesday, also hired Landon Brokaw as a consultant. Brokaw worked at Bitwise as the chief corporate development officer. The interim trustee told the court Brokaw has been “very helpful.”