July 11, 2000
City Council Retreats
Heated Debate With County On Loss of Taxes
By Amy Williams
CLOVIS -- The Clovis City
Council unanimously reversed its previous stance on cleaning up
the urban blight zone in Southwest Clovis. The proposed work would
have been done in an area bounded by Shaw, Clovis Avenue, and Winery
Avenue and sections of Ashlan and Gettysburg avenues. Area residents
have shown widespread support for redevelopment of the area in question.
In recent weeks the Fresno County Board
of Supervisors were critical of Clovis announced intentions to redevelop
the neighborhood. County officials have alleged that the City Council
had not identified a sufficient justification that would meet requirements
for obtaining state redevelopment areas and that not all of the
Southwest site was blighted.
At its June 19th Council meeting an ordinance
approving adopting the Redevelopment Plan was considered and discussed
at length. Steven Peck reviewed the uses within the area and described
the low property values for single family homes and the overcrowding,
lack of open space, calls for police services, and the general economic
conditions in the area.
Mr. Peck reviewed the substandard physical
conditions in the area. Police Corporal Lonnie Amerjan, reviewed
the calls for service in the area and indicated that 36% of all
City calls were for the Southwest area.
Lonnie Amerjan reviewed the police problems
in the area and the physical conditions of the dwelling units in
the area. Lonnie Amerjan reported on the CARE Clovis Program.
Officer Amerjan indicated that there were
10 beat officers assigned to the area and reviewed the contents
of Exhibit 8 submitted for the record. Housing Project Manager Tina
Sumner reviewed the conditions within the area, especially problems
not visible from the outside of the home.
Ruben Castillo, Chief Deputy Counsel for
Fresno County, stated that most of the area was not blighted and
presented evidence of misuse of the redevelopment process of government
by the City Council.
According to a Clovis Free Press
news source at the County of Fresno, as much as $10-12 million in
urban renewal funds may be at risk in potentially lost property-taxes
if Clovis had moved to start redevelopment work on the site. In
what is perhaps and overstatement of the case, the official told
reporters that the Clovis City Council could put at risk moneys
already budgeted by the Supervisors for such things as operations
at the County Courthouse like criminal courts and jails.
In a surprising show of resistance to such
arguments, the Council pointed out that County government would
benefit from increased property tax revenues after the redevelopment
project was completed.
At a recent Council meeting when the Council
was challenged by a member of the public as to the extent of the
Council's zoning authority, Mayor Harry Armstrong said, "Well,
we've been here so long we can do just about anything we want to
around here!" However, a new era of
humility was readily apparent at last night's Council meeting when
Mayor Armstrong acknowledge the higher authority of the Fresno County
Board of Supervisors as he addressed that issue with the comment,"
I hope that Big Brother sees the light and continues to work
with the City of Clovis". Plans for funding the Mayor's redevelopment
project for Southwest Clovis do not appear to be in the works, unless
Clovis voters can be persuaded to take on more City debt. Minutes
of the June 19th meeting may be reviewed by clicking on-- Minutes.
Note: The California Constitution, Art. XI, Sec. 20 specifies the
limitations on City expenditures prohibiting spending in excess
of 5% of current bond revenues, unless previously authorized by
a two-thirds vote of the of the electors. If you would like to download
the Council Minutes and don't
have the free Adobe software viewer, please go to the Adobe
download page ] .
©2000 Clovis Free Press. All