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Clovis Settles Affordable Housing Lawsuit Filed by Dez Martinez
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 2 months ago on
February 21, 2024

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The city of Clovis settled a lawsuit that challenged its affordable housing supply.

Activist Dez Martinez filed the lawsuit in 2019.

The city will change several policies, which could add 3,000 affordable housing units.


The city of Clovis agreed to add more affordable housing to its stock, settling a lawsuit — filed more than four years ago — from a housing activist.

Announced at Tuesday’s city council meeting, Clovis agreed to policy changes that could add 3,000 units of affordable housing.

Dez Martinez, a homeless and housing advocate, filed the lawsuit in 2019 against the city, claiming its housing and land use policies did not provide enough affordable housing as required by law, also known as the Regional Housing Needs Assessment.

Housing advocate Dez Martinez’s lawsuit settlement with the city of Clovis could result in the addition of 3,000 affordable housing units in the city. (GV Wire File)

“The settlement ends years of litigation between the City of Clovis and Ms. Martinez regarding the City’s land use and planning policies.  Focusing now on creating affordable housing opportunities in Clovis, the settlement allows both sides to avoid future costly and prolonged legal proceedings,” the city said in a news release.

Martinez, in the city news release, praised the settlement.

“This legal case has transcended beyond my personal circumstances; it now represents the struggle of every individual combatting the high cost of living and striving to survive. Today, this lawsuit symbolizes the fight for a more inclusive community that embraces people from all backgrounds. For me, this legal battle marks just the beginning as I have more tasks ahead. However, it has also created a significant opportunity for many others to follow suit,” Martinez said.

Said Mayor Lynne Ashbeck: “Clovis, and its residents, are committed to address the housing crisis with solutions that will provide housing opportunities in the near and long-term for our future neighbors.”

The city council voted unanimously 5-0 in closed session — and announced publicly afterward — to settle the lawsuit. Ashbeck, Matt Basgall, Drew Bessinger, Vong Mouanoutoua, and Diane Pearce voted in favor.

Changes to Housing Policy

Housing policies the city agreed to include:

  • The city will increase density for certain housing zoning — from 15 units an acre, to 20.
  • The city will establish a Local Housing Trust Fund, contributing at least $1.8 million.
  • The city will use city-owned sites to develop affordable housing. At least two locations were identified in the settlement — 650 Fowler Avenue, and 354 Osmun Circle.
  • 650 Fowler Ave is currently a Clovis Fire Department Logistics Center; 354 Osmun Circle was a parking lot for the former Clovis Senior Activity Center.
  • The city will rezone small infill parcels for 1,300 apartment units.
  • The city will require 10% of “mid-to-large scale new housing developments” units to be dedicated to affordable housing.
  • The city will create a “development impact fee deferral program” to help pay for affordable housing fees.

Case History

Martinez, the lead plaintiff, was joined in the lawsuit by her mother, Maria Sanchez. The family grew up in Clovis. Later in life both Martinez and Sanchez had difficulty finding an affordable home to live in the city. They accused the city of intentionally planning a lack of affordable housing to live up to the “Clovis Way of Life.”

After they filed in 2019, a Fresno County Superior Court judge ruled partially in favor of Martinez — that the city needed to adopt a housing element plan to comply with state law.

Both the city and Martinez appealed to the Fifth District Court of Appeal, based in Fresno. The appeal court sided with Martinez. The city appealed to the state Supreme Court, which passed on hearing the case in July 2023.

The case was sent back to Fresno County Superior Court. The two sides have been meeting since to settle the case.

The settlement will also see the city pay Martinez’s attorney’s fees. No amount was specified in the settlement agreement, but it did indicate the parties would meet to decide a figure.

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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