Exasperated with continuing homeless taking up residence in neighborhoods across the entirety of California’s fifth-largest city, Fresno lawmakers floated a proposal to open up the Fresno Convention Center as a massive shelter to legally enable police to roust homeless from the streets.
The pitch, dubbed an unofficial “housing emergency,” was part of a multi-pronged proposal.
What’s in it? The urgency behind housing policy comes as Fresno’s City Council added a new member, new Vice President Annalisa Perea. She, along with Council members Miguel Arias and Luis Chavez, tendered a discussion on a housing emergency that included:
- A rollback of processes to ease permitting in Fresno’s loathed planning department
- Expedited review of affordable housing projects by the same department
- Legalizing non-permitted “granny flats” or accessory-dwelling units on residential properties
Who’s opposed? For the moment, the Dyer administration. City Manager Georgeanne White and Mayor Jerry Dyer were quick to note that the entirety of the proposal caught them off-guard, starting with a media-centric rollout on Wednesday.
- “I have to admit, I’m a bit frustrated, in that, all of these great discussions and ideas – I had to read about them in the newspaper. When we had an item appear that said ‘we’re declaring an emergency,’ and it’s like what kind of emergency? Can the Council declare an emergency? It wasn’t until last night when The Fresno Bee article was posted at 8:12 when I learned of the proposal about using either Selland [Arena] or the convention center as a homeless shelter,” White said, exasperated.
- “While the Mayor hire and fire me, I’m your City Manager, too. I’m the one responsible for implementing the policies that you pass. And so having these discussions that have enormous implications on our organization and our staff without the courtesy of a head’s up is enormously frustrating. I’ve had my staff scrambling since 8:15 last night trying to figure out, from what we read in the newspaper, what we can get done,” she added.
At the top of the list of concerns: a bevy of contracts booking the Fresno Convention Center and Selland Arena facilities for events – from weddings to Disney on Ice.
Notable Quotable: After an emotional display from White, Chavez apologized for the lack of notice heading into Thursday’s meeting. Arias, on the other hand, remained firm and refused to apologize.
- “I could care less about Disney on Ice when there are people waking up dead in the streets,” the downtown Council member said.