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Fresno's Hatfields & McCoys: City Sues County Over General Plan
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 1 month ago on
March 22, 2024

City Hall adds a lawsuit over the Fresno County's new general plan to a long-running dispute about tax-revenue sharing. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)

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The latest chapter of angst between the city and county of Fresno will play out in a local courthouse.

Thursday, the Fresno City Council announced it is suing Fresno County over the latter’s general plan.

Fresno City Attorney Andrew Janz told Politics 101 that the city “was forced to file this litigation to preserve our claims.”

“It is our position that the County’s environmental report is wholly insufficient and fails to address critical issues affecting City of Fresno residents including water usage and sustainability, housing and sprawl, protection of farmland, transportation, and air quality.  If the City of Fresno is required to play by the rules, then so should the County of Fresno,” Janz said.

The vote to sue was 4-3 in closed session and announced publicly. Councilmembers Miguel Arias, Luis Chavez, Nelson Esparza, and Garry Bredefeld voted in favor; Annalisa Perea, Mike Karbassi, and Tyler Maxwell opposed the lawsuit.

Chavez and Bredefeld are running for the county Board of Supervisors. In the Nov. 5 election, Chavez faces incumbent Sal Quintero in District 5; Bredefeld challenges incumbent Steve Brandau in District 2.

No court hearing date has been set.

Revenue-Sharing Dispute Stalls Development

The move comes as the city and county have yet to resolve how the two government entities will split tax revenue on infill development in Fresno’s county islands. Also affected: development in the city’s sphere of influence requiring city annexation.

The tax-sharing deal expired in 2020 and has made approval of new residential developments in these specific areas difficult. Without this agreement, the tax sharing must be approved one project at a time by the city and county. The most recent split — 62% to 38% for the county — has been problematic for the city.

Both sides said they desire to negotiate a new deal. At the same time, county and city elected leaders take snipes at their counterparts in comments to the media.

County Responds to Lawsuit

The lawsuit — filed in Fresno County Superior Court — accuses the county of violating the state’s environmental reporting laws known as CEQA, and violating state planning and zoning laws.

The League of Women Voters, and another nonprofit, Central Valley Partnership, combined to file a similar but separate lawsuit against the county.

“We haven’t seen the complaint yet. The County engaged all stakeholders, including the City of Fresno, in a lengthy comment process prior to the approval of the General Plan and appropriately addressed all legally required elements in the Plan,” county spokesperson Sonja Dosti said.

The county Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 on Feb. 20 to update its general plan.

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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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