The Fresno County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to oppose the City of Fresno’s renaming of a 10-mile stretch of road after UFW founder Cesar Chavez, effectively blocking the name change in areas where the city and county share jurisdiction in southeast and southwest Fresno.
The Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to adopt the resolution opposing the City of Fresno’s request to change the name of East Kings Canyon Road, East Ventura Avenue, and West California Avenue to Cesar Chavez Boulevard and rejecting the City’s request to make the change within County jurisdiction.
Driving the news: At a packed meeting, residents and city leaders voiced their opinions on the name change.
- In a rare move, Fresno City Councilmember Miguel Arias spoke during public comment to assert that the City of Fresno did not need the permission of the County of Fresno to proceed with its action.
- Fresno Pastor and Dyer administration official B.T. Lewis expressed that west Fresno is the only part of the city that carry the history and heritage of his people, and California Avenue is significant to his history.
- The Fresno City Council started the process of renaming roads in southeast Fresno to honor civil rights activist Cesar Chavez after initiating legislative moves more than a year ago.
- Fresno County officials rooted their opposition the name change due to the historical importance of each street rename request.
- Kings Canyon Road is significant in that it is the only route named for the national park and serves as the City’s “gateway” to the park. California Avenue is a landmark within Fresno’s oldest African-American neighborhood.
- Fresno County officials cited “major protest” from residents, businesses, and community leaders who were excluded from the City of Fresno’s planning process and expressed concern that street name changes could affect the timely response to emergency calls for service.
What they’re saying: Fresno County Board Chairman Sal Quintero, whose district comprises much of the territory affected by the name change within the City of Fresno, went to great lengths to explain his long-standing ties with the labor leader, but surprised many by arguing that Chavez would have declined the honor being issued by City of Fresno lawmakers.
- “I got to know [Chavez] that well that I believe if he were alive today, he would decline the name change and the million dollars to help businesses and residents with the address changes. I believe he’d say ‘There are greater needs in our community.’ Instead, I believe he might ask the money be given to a nonprofit that is helping Fresno County’s homeless population,” Quintero said before voting to support the county’s resolution.
- “The county Board of Supervisors would never name a street, or a park or anything after a labor leader who fought for farmworkers because of their disdain for the labor movement and the farmworker movement. But they can, you know, cover that as much as they want and put as much lipstick on a pig as possible. But it’s still a pig,” Arias told GV Wire following the vote.