Dyer, Karbassi appeal rejection of northwest Fresno apartment complex

Fresno could face millions in fines and a lawsuit if the city does not approve the project.

A proposed apartment complex for northwest Fresno that was shot down by the Fresno Planning Commission is not dead in the water. 

Mayor Jerry Dyer and Fresno City Councilman Mike Karbassi have appealed the Planning Commission’s decision, noting that the city likely needs to comply with the Housing Accountability Act. 


The backstory: A couple weeks ago the Planning Commission rejected an 82-unit apartment complex that was proposed for the northeast corner of Herndon and Prospect Avenues after significant opposition from neighbors. 

  • But last week Developer James Kuelskamp of LandValue Management requested that Dyer appeal the decision, saying the rejection could violate state law. 

The big picture: In their appeal letter to Planning and Development Director Jennifer Clark, Dyer and Karbassi said the City Attorney’s Office advised them that the city is likely violating state law by denying the project. 

  • The City Attorney’s Office said the findings made by the Planning Commission fall short of the required criteria to deny the project and that the city has been placed at substantial risk of litigation that will likely result in fines and the courts approving the project. 
  • Ultimately the city could face a fine between $820,000 to $4.1 million. 
  • The Housing Accountability Act effectively requires cities to approve projects that fit zoning rules, and cities must approve projects and provide permits within 90 to 180 days. 

What they’re saying: “Deciding to appeal the Planning Commission’s findings was a decision I wrestled with greatly,” Dyer said in a statement. “I tried to view the situation as if I lived in the neighborhood, while also recognizing my mayoral responsibility to look out for the financial interest of the entire city.”

  • Dyer added that they did not really have a choice in the matter based on California law. 
  • “To not appeal, in our opinion, would have been worse for the neighborhood based on the options available to the developer,” Dyer said. “I am committed to facilitating a meeting between the developer and the residents.” 
  • Karbassi called on LandValue Management to meet with the neighbors. 
  • “With similar projects of this magnitude, it has become standard practice for developers to hold community meetings in order to build consensus with the residents impacted by a project proposal,” Karbassi said. “Based on the evidence at the recent public hearing, this developer has been unwilling to engage with residents of the Tatarian Elementary community and incorporate their requests. It is no surprise that the project’s proponents are grossly outnumbered by such overwhelming opposition.”
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