Fresno clears legal speed bumps to rename road Cesar Chavez Blvd.

Fresno lawmakers are celebrating a victory of renaming 10 miles of a major roadway after the late, controversial labor leader.

A 6-1 vote by Fresno’s City Council to rename a lengthy, 10-mile span of road in south Fresno to “Cesar Chavez Boulevard” was officially enacted, the lead sponsors of the initiative announced Tuesday.

Fresno lawmakers approved a resolution on March 9 to rename a corridor made up of California Avenue in southwest Fresno, Ventura Street in downtown Fresno, and Kings Canyon Road in southeast Fresno after the late founder of the United Farmworkers.


The big picture: The renaming – like its new namesake – has been controversial, with concerns raised over the impact on residents and businesses in the areas affected, as well as the historical and cultural significance of the existing street names.

  • In a letter to lawmakers last week, Mayor Jerry Dyer urged for reconsideration on the renaming and to “consider reducing the amount of roadway being renamed, to lessen the impact on businesses and residents,” focusing specifically on the inclusion of California Ave., a roadway that runs through Fresno’s historically Black neighborhoods in southwest Fresno.
  • The mayor also pointed out that there would be additional costs to businesses and residents due to the need to change their addresses, advertising, signage, licensure and other expenses associated with the change.

Driving the news: The trio who sponsored the road renaming, Fresno City Council members Luis Chavez, Miguel Arias, and Nelson Esparza, noted that Dyer’s failure to file a formal veto or acknowledgment of the resolution deemed the renaming as enacted.

  • In a statement issued Tuesday, they noted they were “working closely with the Dyer administration to ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible.”
  • The City Council has earmarked $1 million in its 2022-23 budget to cover the costs for replacing city street signs at intersections, changing Caltrans signage for freeway exits, and other expenses associated with the change.
  • The name change will not extend further east than Peach Ave. where streets fall into Fresno County islands or are of split jurisdiction between the City and County without approval from the Fresno County Board of Supervisors.

What they’re saying: Fresno Council member Luis Chavez, the lawmaker who spearheaded the effort for more than a year and revived the 1993 proposal, celebrated the beginning of a transition for the city.

  • “This is an exciting moment in the history of the city of Fresno,” said Chavez. “Fresno now joins the ranks of virtually every major city in the United States and names a street to honor a civil rights icon from our own community.”
  • “For us it is especially meaningful for Fresno to have a street named for Cesar Chavez in the city where the movement was officially founded and has played an important role in its ongoing work. This historic street naming is also a tribute to the countless men, women and children who marched alongside my father in the quest for fairness, justice and opportunity for those most in need,” said the labor leader’s son Paul F. Chavez.
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