Newsom’s $250 million investment in downtown Fresno faces opposition

Local social justice groups have taken issue with the funding for downtown instead of addressing needs in south Fresno neighborhoods.

A major investment promised by California Gov. Gavin Newsom for downtown Fresno could be much smaller than initially anticipated. 

The likely reduction comes, in part, after a letter from progressive social justice groups to state lawmakers taking issue with how Mayor Jerry Dyer plans to spend the money. 


The backstory: Last month Newsom proposed $250 million for downtown Fresno in his May budget revision despite the fact that California is staring down a $32 billion deficit. 

  • After Newsom’s announcement, Dyer laid out his plans for the funding, which include allocating $80 million for downtown housing and improving aging infrastructure, $70 million for two new parking structures and $55 million for public transportation, green space and landscaping. 

Driving the news: On May 31, a group of progressive social justice organizations penned a letter to Newsom and high-ranking state lawmakers taking issue with the lack of investment going to south Fresno. 

  • The groups that signed on to the letter include Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, Faith in the Valley, Central California Environmental Justice Network and Fresno Building Healthy Communities. 
  • “While we believe that transformational investment is needed in Fresno, there are existing and urgent needs in existing neighborhoods in South Fresno that this funding would not address and we are surprised that there are no apparent transit access or affordable housing requirements attached to this significant grant of funds,” the letter reads. “As importantly, we are concerned with the lack of community engagement, transparency, and accountability requirements attached to this proposal.” 
  • The groups laid out a list of requests for the state to consider in the final budget bill, including mandating that 50 percent of total housing units in downtown be deed-restricted, affordable housing units available to low, very low and moderate income households. 

What we’re watching: When California’s budget takes its final shape by the end of the month, Fresno’s $250 million pot might be whittled down to $50 million. 

  • Thursday, the legislature passed its budget proposal and only included $50 million in the 2023-2024 budget. The other $200 million could come in future years, but without a push from Newsom as the budget is finalized by the end of the month it looks like Fresno will only take home $50 million.
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