Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer is asking the Fresno City Council to reconsider part of its resolution that renames three streets after Latino farm labor leader Cesar Chavez.
Dyer’s request comes in lockstep with Fresno’s Black community, which came out in opposition to the proposal a couple weeks ago.
The backstory: The council voted 6-1 to change Kings Canyon Road, Ventura Ave. and W. California Ave. to Cesar Chavez Blvd.
- Fresno’s Black community took issue with California Ave. being included in the change. Southwest Fresno pastor B.T. Lewis called the renaming an “insult and blatant disregard” to the Black community’s presence in Fresno.
- Fresno Unified School District Trustee Keshia Thomas, the representative for the Edison High School area, voiced the community’s concerns for its lack of voice in the process.
- Councilman Garry Bredefeld cast the lone vote against the change, which was sponsored by Councilmembers Luis Chavez, Miguel Arias and Nelson Esparza.
Big picture: While the council chose to move forward with the renaming, despite the opposition from the Black community, Dyer penned a letter to the council asking the resolution’s sponsors to bring the item back to the council for reconsideration.
- Specifically, Dyer is asking for the renaming to omit California Ave. from the original resolution out of respect for the Black community’s wishes.
State of play: As the mayor, Dyer could veto the resolution, but with a supermajority vote already intact, he fears the veto would simply prolong the inevitable.
What they’re saying: “Unfortunately, many felt blindsided and left out of the process which does not bode well for building community trust,” Dyer wrote in the letter.
- Dyer voiced his support for naming a street in Fresno after Cesar Chavez, given the city’s large Hispanic population, but he noted that many residents in Southwest Fresno have been left feeling “forgotten and disheartened” by the decision.
- “Frankly, in the eyes of some, the process undertaken to pursue the street renaming has felt counter to the spirit of the great man in which we are aiming to honor,” Dyer wrote.
- Dyer also noted his concern for the cost that will be incurred to change the nearly 11-mile stretch of road. The city has allocated $1 million to reimburse businesses for their expenses related to the renaming, but Dyer said the true cost has yet to be fully determined.
- Ultimately Dyer said he is hoping for an “outcome that honors the spirit of community engagement without marginalizing another historically underserved population.”