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This Is How Fresno County Can Fix Its Housing Crisis
Opinion
By Opinion
Published 6 months ago on
October 6, 2023

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As county assessor, my job is to complete and maintain the assessment roll that shows the values and status of all property in Fresno County. The tax roll is the basis upon which the tax collector prepares and sends out property tax bills to property owners of record.

Property taxes are the glue that allows the Board of Supervisors to maintain vital services in our area, as they provide funding for the first responders, K-12 schools, cities, and special districts.

Paul Dictos

Fresno County Assessor-Recorder

Opinion

Having served in this position for the past 12 years, I am able to make certain observations and suggestions that, if implemented, will support urban development, foster job opportunities, and strengthen the county’s financial foundation.

Fresno County includes the city of Fresno, which is the fifth-largest in California. For several  decades, Fresno County has had a policy of referring industrial, commercial, and residential projects proposed for development in the county to the city. Upon the annexation of land by the city, it then provides urban services such as sewer, water, and public safety (police, fire, and emergency medical).

However, in the last few years, the city has refused to accept development proposals and permit the annexation of land, in the false belief that the allocation of property taxes between Fresno County and the city of Fresno unfairly favors the county. Nothing could be further from the truth when all taxes — property, sales, and special use — are considered.

The city’s past reluctance to support development by annexing additional land now presents a new opportunity for Fresno County and all its residents — whether they live in the unincorporated area of Fresno County or within the Fresno city limits — to accommodate industrial, commercial, and residential development, and thereby generate additional tax revenue for both the county and the city alike.

To be sure, the process of accomplishing the twin goals of accommodating development in the unincorporated area of Fresno County and generating tax revenue would be challenging for the county, but when has a goal with potentially significant positive results ever been easy to achieve? As the saying goes, “No pain, no gain.”

The county’s accommodation of development would unfold and be implemented over a period of years. It would require that the county rescind its existing development referral policy and necessitate changes in its General Plan. Reliable sources of water would have to be identified, as well as the means of providing urban services and financing public infrastructure to deliver those services. Challenging without question, but certainly feasible.

Bold Leadership Benefits Madera County

One need only look to Fresno County’s neighbor to the north, Madera County, to witness the results of bold leadership. The phenomenally successful residential communities of Riverstone and Tesoro Viejo are a testament to what Fresno County can accomplish. Valley Children’s Hospital and ancillary medical facilities and offices for healthcare professionals will be followed by even more commercial and industrial developments.

Other California counties — Sacramento, Orange, and San Francisco — stand out as examples of what have come to be known as “urban counties,” i.e., counties providing traditional urban services to significant populations residing in unincorporated areas.

One thing is certain: If Fresno County does not begin addressing the prospect of accommodating urban development in its unincorporated areas, it will never realize its full potential to maximize tax revenue for all residents, including those residing in the county’s 15 incorporated cities.

About the Author

Paul Dictos is the Fresno County Assessor-Recorder and a candidate for the Fresno County Board of Supervisors in District 2.

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GV Wire encourages vigorous debate from people and organizations on local, state, and national issues. Submit your op-ed to rreed@gvwire.com for consideration. 

 

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