An 11-mile stretch of prominent south Fresno roads will be renamed for late labor leader Cesar Chavez.
But several members of the Black community objected to a portion of a road in west Fresno from being part of the change.
Honoring Chavez with a street name change in Fresno has been 30 years in the making. The city council approved the plan in 1993, a few months after Chavez died. Then-mayor Jim Patterson vetoed the change.
Starting with a preliminary vote last year, the plan is back. The Fresno City Council voted 6-1 Thursday to implement the name change of California Avenue, and Ventura and Kings Canyon roads to Cesar Chavez Boulevard.
“This is really designed to be a unifying process that recognizes the progress and embraces the beautiful mosaic of diversity that we have now in the city of Fresno,” City Councilman Luis Chavez (no relation) said on the dais.
It is the latest step that started in 1993, the year Chavez died. The city council approved a name change then, but the move was vetoed by then-mayor Jim Patterson.
Last year, the city council approved the start of the name change. On Thursday, the name change and $1 million to facilitate the change — new street signs, help with businesses along the route to update the address — were approved.
West Fresno Groups Object
Several speakers from west Fresno, where the city’s Black community has historically lived, objected changing the California Avenue portion.
Debbie Darden, with the Golden Westside Planning Committee said she was disappointed that the city did not talk to west Fresno residents.
“West Fresno has African-Americans roots. It is our existence,” Darden said.
Pastor B.T. Lewis, who also works in Mayor Jerry Dyer’s administration, said the name change was “another of a thousand cuts, killing the history and the heritage of the African-American community in our city.”
“While we love and respect our Latino brothers and sisters for their effort to build power and influence in our city, it is imperative that we not dishonor the heritage of our … other vulnerable and disenfranchised communities in our city,” Lewis said.
City Councilman Miguel Arias defended changing the name of the California Avenue segment, saying it was part of the 1993 plan. He also said the city is investing $150 millions in west Fresno in recent projects, including a new campus for Fresno City College.
“There are some historical wrongs that needed to be righted,” Arias said. “The community, specifically the Latino community, have been waiting 29 years and nine months for this historical wrong to be corrected.”
Arias, Chavez, Annalisa Perea, Nelson Esparza, Mike Karbassi and Tyler Maxwell voted in favor. Garry Bredefeld voted against.[Original story]:
Last year, the Fresno City Council approved renaming one of the most prominent southside roads in honor of the late labor leader Cesar Chavez. Today, the council is debating how to implement the change.
The estimated cost is $1 million for changing street signs and reimbursing businesses that need to change out cards, addresses, and other expenses. Councilman Luis Chavez — the resolution’s sponsor — says there are 250 businesses on Kings Canyon Road, between First and Fowler avenues.
Chavez says the money is well spent.
“I see this as a need. I think we do have a need to recognize Cesar Chavez and recognize our farm workers that live in that community that we have not done so for the last 30 years,” Chavez said.
The city attempted to change the name of Kings Canyon Road to honor Cesar Chavez in 1993. After initial approval, the city council reversed itself after a backlash.
“Just the rhetoric that was discussed at that time, you know, we were just coming out of Prop. 187 and a lot of the racist undertones that were occurring. We’re a different city now,” Chavez said. He says several city buildings and parks are named after ethnic leaders.
Also in Politics 101 …
- Chavez renaming ceremony scheduled for next month or two.
- Update on County vs. Bredefeld and Chavez
- What’s missing in state bios?
Ceremony Scheduled for April or May
A name change ceremony is scheduled for April or May. State and federal agencies still need to sign off, including the U.S. Postal Service.
The change will take place in phases, starting with Ventura Street and Kings Canyon Road (the name changes at Highway 41), eastward toward Peach Avenue.
Phase two would be east of Peach Avenue, through Temperance Avenue. A section of Kings Canyon Road between Peach and Clovis avenues is under county jurisdiction. Fresno County would need to make that name change. The plan is to also change California Avenue, between Marks and MLK avenues, to Cesar Chavez Boulevard as well.
Not all community members are on board. Karen Musson of agricultural services firm Gar Bennett sent the city a letter opposing the name changes.
“It saddens me to know that little value was given to honor our rich history and the origins of Fresno,” Musson wrote.
“I have a lot of respect for her and her family. We just disagree on this,” Chavez said about Musson’s opposition to the name change.
One joke is that Ventura Street is named after Jesse Ventura — at least that is what the former Minnesota governor said on a WWF broadcast from Fresno.
“I’m still waiting for Hulk Hogan Avenue,” councilmember Luis Chavez joked.
Campaign Transfer Battle Will Reach Judge in July
Can candidates for Fresno County Board of Supervisors transfer more than $30,000 from other campaign accounts? The county says no, and two candidates running for supervisor say yes.
The county filed for declaratory relief in Fresno County Superior Court, asking a judge to help clarify the controversy.
The Board of Supervisors established the limit in 2020, ahead of a state law mandating that local jurisdictions establish their own or revert to a much lower state figure.
When Fresno City Councilman Garry Bredefeld announced he was running against incumbent Steve Brandau, and Fresno City Councilman Luis Chavez announced he was running against incumbent Sal Quintero, the county announced its interpretation that account-to-account transfers are limited to $30,000.
The two challengers believe that the $30,000 limit applies to each individual donor transfer. Both Bredefeld and Chavez have six-figure city council accounts. The maximum donation for city council candidates is $4,900 per individual.
In its filing, the county refers to its ordinance, without detailing the legal reasoning for why the transfer cap should apply.
Judge Bob Whalen will hear the case on July 5.
Read County’s Legal Filing
Governor Appointments are Ageless
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s press office often sends emails through its media list of appointments to various state agencies and vacant judicial positions. It is a routine email that list the appointee, the position, and a brief bio.
Until Tuesday, the email also included the age of the appointee. That is no more.
“Our new format for appointment bios does not include age,” the governor’s press office responded when asked why.