Not only are the city of Fresno and the county struggling to get along, but county leaders are now at odds over how to deal with the city.
Incoming Fresno County Supervisor Andreas Borgeas, the former city councilman, proposed this week the creation of a joint city-county task force to try to settle common issues that the two sides don’t agree on – building a new animal shelter or high-speed rail or regional growth. Pick a topic.
Sound simple? It wasn’t.
The plan garnered just one supporter at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting –- Judy Case — and perhaps more tellingly, the plan gave the new supervisor a preview of the pushback he’s apt to get from his veteran colleagues over the next four years.
Supervisors Phil Larson and Debbie Poochigian said they’d seen task-force ideas like this tried before without success: “We’ve kind of been there and done that,” said Poochigian.
And Supervisor Henry Perea had a plan of his own, which Larson was quick to support: demand the city drop its lawsuit against the county (over development) before any discussion begins. “We’ll start the conversation there,” Perea said.
Borgeas wasn’t amused. Nor deterred.
“It’s unethical that two supervisors sort of hijacked this proposal by demanding legal conditions before they would talk with the city,” Borgeas said. “This is blatant leveraging in an embarrassing way.”
Task force or no task force, Borgeas said he intends to meet with city officials to work through issues. He already has the ear of Mayor Ashley Swearengin, having received a letter from her this week in support of his task-force.
Supervisor Perea, meanwhile, sent his own letter to Mayor Swearengin on Wednesday asking the city to drop its lawsuit against the county.
“I am extending an invitation to meet with you and Council President Blong Xiong to request that the city withdraw all current land-use litigation as an act of good faith,” Perea wrote. “We would also like to begin discussions on how we can work together to receive our respective planning objectives.”
Whether there’s a breakthrough in city-county relations and how it might come remains anyone’s guess.
In the meantime, the list of issues that need to be reconciled between the parties gets no shorter. The lawsuit in the fore is over the proposed Friant Ranch development near Millerton Lake, which the county approved but the city doesn’t want.
In an unusual twist, Gov. Jerry Brown last week sent envoys to the Valley to try to settle disagreements over Friant Ranch and a handful of other growth issues.