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Infill Builder Gets City & County to Agree to Share Tax Revenue. New Duplexes Coming to NW Fresno.
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By Edward Smith
Published 2 months ago on
February 22, 2024

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A Fresno builder bringing four duplexes to vacant lot in northwest Fresno bordering city and county land.

Builder was surprised the infill development proposal took so long for approval.

City councilmembers and county supervisors expected to commence talks on tax-sharing pact.


A “one-off” tax agreement between the city and county of Fresno means a proposed northwest Fresno residential project two-and-a-half years in the making can move forward.

On just over a half-acre of vacant land, Fresno property owner Lou Telesmanic plans to build four duplexes on Bullard Avenue just west of Maroa Avenue.

Telesmanic said he expected his infill residential project to be easier to build, considering how well he says it matches city and county goals for infill housing construction. He recently completed a similar — but larger — project a little more than a mile away.

“I thought it was going to be easy sailing because everybody talks about these infill projects,” Telesmanic said.

After nearly a year of trying to get the city and county to sign off on a tax-sharing agreement, allowing Telesmanic to move to the next step of construction, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the pact on Tuesday.

The county will retain a 62% percent share of property taxes and the city will receive 38%. That’s the same percentage of the expired tax-sharing agreement.

Supervisor Steve Brandau helped Telesmanic and his wife get the application through the city of Fresno. Brandau also said that conversations between the city and county to approve a new tax agreement restarted recently.

For Fresno residents, a new tax-sharing agreement can mean getting housing built faster, builders say.

“This is a mom-and-pop situation, it’s a small piece of property and they want to put a couple of duplexes on it, it’s not very big at all,” Brandau said. “I’m hoping that we can move it forward today and inspire some more work done on the big picture.”

Fresno developer Lou Telesmanic plans to add four duplexes to the .6-acre lot near Bullard and Maroa avenues. (GV Wire/Edward Smith)

Project Adds Four Duplexes to North Fresno

Telesmanic specializes in high-density infill development. He plans to divide the .6-acre lot into four parcels, building 1,400-square-foot homes with attached 1,200-square-foot accessory dwelling units on each.

Telesmanic said the rental units would be perfect for older couples.

On Bullard Avenue, just east of West Avenue, he completed the Adriatic Villas two-and-a-half years ago. Also on county land, the development added 12 semi-custom rental homes. Given the demand for housing, Telesmanic said they filled up quickly once available.

How Tax Sharing Disagreement Delayed Project More Than Six Months

Telesmanic’s property makes the border of a county pocket. To use city services such as water and sewer lines, the land had to be brought into Fresno limits.

The expiration of the city-county tax-sharing agreement in 2020 adds a hurdle in annexing land. Before the expiration, it was assumed property taxes would be divided 62% to the county and 38% to the city. But city officials said previously they want a more even split, similar to the 50/50 agreement in place before 2002, when the last tax-sharing agreement began.

Approving an annexation requires one-off tax agreements, something county supervisors have been reticent to use.

A dispute about how the city delivered services on a housing development in southwest Fresno led Supervisor Brian Pacheco to say he would not vote for another one.

Because those services have since been delivered, Pacheco said he could vote for this one.

“Hopefully, this will be one of the last one-offs,” Pacheco said.

In March 2023, the Fresno City Council approved sending an application to the Fresno Local Agency Formation Commission. Fresno LAFCo mediates between cities and the county in annexing land.

The city council approved the tax-sharing agreement for Telesmanic’s property on Jan. 18.

City documents show how Fresno property owner Lou Telesmanic’s vacant lot borders both city and county land. (City of Fresno)

Tax Sharing Talks Starting?

Brandau said he hoped this approval would be an incentive to restart tax-sharing agreement talks.

At Thursday’s city council meeting, members will vote on creating a committee to recommence talks with the county for a tax-sharing agreement.

Fresno County Administrative Officer Paul Nerland said in a previous interview he meets semi-regularly with Fresno City Manager Georgeanne White on the topic.

Council President Annalisa Perea — a planner by trade — will chair the committee if it is approved. Perea will select the two other members of the committee, according to city documents. The committee will meet with supervisors Pacheco and Buddy Mendes.

Telesmanic next has to bring the two approvals to Fresno LAFCo for final approval. Then he can begin submitting plans for approval. Once approved, Telesmanic anticipates eight to 10 months to build the duplexes.

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Edward Smith,
Multimedia Journalist
Edward Smith began reporting for GV Wire in May 2023. His reporting career began at Fresno City College, graduating with an associate degree in journalism. After leaving school he spent the next six years with The Business Journal, doing research for the publication as well as covering the restaurant industry. Soon after, he took on real estate and agriculture beats, winning multiple awards at the local, state and national level. You can contact Edward at 559-440-8372 or at Edward.Smith@gvwire.com.

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