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Smart Voter
Fresno County, CA June 8, 2010 Election
Measure A
Require Approval Prior to City Council Expansion
City of Fresno

Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required

Pass: 34272 / 64.75% Yes votes ...... 18661 / 35.25% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments | Full Text

Shall Charter Section 1504, which requires the automatic addition of two new City Council offices when Fresno's population reaches 540,000, be amended to include a public review process and require City Council and voter approval prior to adding two new Council offices when Fresno's population reaches 650,000?

Impartial Analysis from City Attorney
This measure would amend Charter Section 1504 by adding a public review process, and requiring City Council and voter approval, to increase the size of the Council from seven (7) to nine (9) members. Under existing Charter Section 1504, Council must add two Council offices when the City population reaches 540,000. This automatic expansion of Council membership was adopted by the voters in 1993 as part of the City's change to the Mayor-Council form of government.

If this measure is adopted, Council will establish a public review process to consider adding two Council offices when the City population reaches 650,000. The public review process will be initiated within 180 days from the date of receipt of the State Department of Finance validated population figures. Once the public review process is completed, Council will decide on whether to place before the voters, a ballot measure adding two Council offices. Membership on the Council will increase from seven (7) to nine (9) members, if the ballot measure receives a majority vote.
s/ James C. Sanchez, City Attorney

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Arguments For Measure A Arguments Against Measure A
Fresno's government is slated to grow and we cannot afford it. Charter Section 1504 dictates when Fresno reaches a population of 540,000 residents, two new Council seats must automatically be added, increasing Council from seven to nine members. At a time when the City is struggling to preserve core services, such as public safety, Fresno cannot afford government growth.

Following a Charter Review Committee in 1992, the Council proposed this trigger for an automatic expansion of government. For the past 18 years, Section 1504 has remained a quiet provision. With our projected growth rate, we will likely hit 540,000 in 2013.

More Council offices will be costly to taxpayers. The minimum cost for the scheduled expansion is $600,000 per year. There will also be additional costs of redistricting and capital improvements to accommodate new Councilmembers and staff.

Presently, each Council district represents approximately 72,000 residents. Should Fresno add two new seats as presently scheduled, that number would drop to 60,000 residents per district. In contrast, the national average for cities over 400,000 is approximately 84,000 residents per district, and in California's ten largest cities, of which Fresno is ranked fifth, the average residents per council district are approximately 98,000.

To properly align the size of our Council with peer city standards, we propose amending the Charter to raise the population threshold to 650,000 before considering expanding the Council. This figure would be consistent with state and national averages. Furthermore, any Council expansion would not be automatic. Instead, it would trigger a public review of adding two Council seats. The Council would then vote to place the expansion on the ballot for voters to ultimately decide.

We urge you to vote Yes. Growth of government should neither be automatic nor necessary. Voters should determine whether Fresno can afford government growth.

s/ Lee Brand
Fresno City Council Member District 6
s/ Andreas A. Borgeas
Councilman District #2
s/ Blong Xiong
Councilman Dist. #1
s/ Ashley Swearengin
s/ Al Smith
Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce

Rebuttal to Arguments For

Who are they kidding! There's not a Council Meeting that goes by these same four City Council Members, who support stopping more representation for you on the Council, don't dole out more money in various ways greater than the amount the new Council Members will cost.

Just four years ago City Voters said NO to the same question before us now. What is it about No from the voters they don't understand?

In 1992 the Council appointed a Blue Ribbon Committee who selected a working committee to bring a set of recommendations to the voters on changing the structure of the City's government.

The Council selected only part of the suggestions and placed those before the voters. The City's electorate overwhelming supported the measure that in part said:

  • Remove the Mayor from the Council;
  • Add a 7th Council Member in place of the Mayor;
  • Make the Mayor the Chief Executive Officer, who will select the City Manager as the Chief Administrative Officer of the City;
  • Add 2 more Council Members when the City's population reaches 540,000.

That figure was arrived at to correspond with the size of the City's urban area growing to what it is today, 144 Sq. Miles. That's (1/3 the size of the City of Los Angeles)

The proponents want you to give up the guarantee of more representation and allow a future Council to decide when it's time to share the power.
Keep your guarantee - VOTE NO

s/ Denise McPeters
Resident of Fresno City
s/ Rose Montelongo
Resident of City
s/ Marlene Medina
Resident of City
s/ Callie Ward
Resident of City of Fresno
s/ Diane Smith
Resident of City of Fresno

What is the price of Representation? $600,000 or more? No one knows! In countries that do not give their citizens any representation - it's priceless.

Now our own City Council is telling us they cannot afford to implement the additional representation that was promised in 1992 when the citizens voted in the current charter.

Yet these same Council members - Brand, Borgeas, Xiong and Westerlund - spend $600,000 on any given meeting without so much of a discussion - now they want to conserve money.

Look at how the council has spent taxpayer's money in the past and ask yourself if perhaps adding two additional members might bring some much need brainpower to City Hall! It's surely needed.

Four years ago when the council tried to repeal Charter Section 1504 it failed by an overwhelming vote. There was a cost to city for that election and there's a cost to the city for this election - the city's estimates say $125,000. Now they say they can't afford you more representation.

The Council had no problem pushing the San Joaquin Valley Air District to 14 members from its original 8. They are in the process of adopting the South East Growth Area Plan that will allow housing density upward to 3 times what is allowed by the City's 2025 General Plan. Those densities are estimated to grow the city's population to over 1,000,000.

The Council is telling they want to remove the automatic trigger of adding two additional members with a "public review process"

It will be up to them to put the question back to the voters. Another words they want you to take away what you now have as a guarantee and trust them to ask you if want the additional council members in the future.


s/ Callie Ward
s/ Diane Bennett Smith
Retired Law Enforcement

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
The official budget adopted by the Fresno City Council for the fiscal year 2010 is $305,100 per Council office. General Fund money used to pay for Council offices is also used to pay for essential core services including police, fire, parks and street maintenance.

The sponsors of this charter amendment are members of both the Democrat and Republican Parties. This is a common sense solution to an issue that transcends party affiliation.

It has been suggested that adding more Council Members will enhance the decision-making process for the City. We need not look any further than the dysfunctional, polarized mess in Sacramento or Washington D.C. to understand the wisdom of adding more legislators to solve our problems. More government is not the solution.

This ballot measure is an amendment of Charter Section 1504, not a repeal of it. This amendment raises the population threshold from 540,000 to 650,000 to trigger the automatic review. This threshold change will result in annual savings of approximately $610,000 and approximately $6,100,000 over a ten year period.

State Senate Bill 719 expanded the size of the San Joaquin Valley Air District Board. The Fresno City Council had nothing to do with this action. Additionally, the Southeast Area Growth Plan has absolutely nothing to do with this charter amendment.

s/ Lee Brand
CouncilMember District 6
s/ Blong Xiong
Council Member, District #1
s/ Andreas A. Borgeas
Councilman District #2
s/ Ashley Swearengin
s/ Al Smith
Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce

Full Text of Measure A
Section 1504 of the Charter of the City of Fresno is amended as follows:


(a) At such time as the population of the City of Fresno reaches 540,000 [650,000], the Council shall [establish a public review process to consider] add[ing] two Council offices to the Council designated as Councilmember Number 8 and Councilmember Number 9. For making a determination as to whether the 540,000 [650,000] population figure has been reached, the City shall utilize census data from the Demographic Research Unit of the State Department of Finance issued annually on May 1st or a similarly reliable source of population figures in the event the Demographic Research Unit no longer provides such information. Within 180 days of receipt of validated population figures evidencing this population total, the Council shall [commence the public review process. Once that is completed, Council shall vote on whether to submit to the voters, a ballot measure adding two Council offices. If the measure receives a majority of votes cast, Council shall] redraw the Council district boundaries, after a duly noticed public hearing, to reflect the two additional Council seats [in accordance with the applicable laws].

(b) The two seats shall be initially filled in the next regular municipal election held in which City offices are filled. Both Councilmember seats 8 and 9 shall be filled at said next regular municipal election. Thereafter, Councilmember seat number 8 shall be filled in the same electoral cycle as even-numbered Council seats and Councilmember seat number 9 shall be filled in the same electoral cycle as odd-numbered Council seats. Depending on when the election cycle for filling Councilmember seat numbers 8 and 9 falls, the initial term for one of the two seats shall be a two-year term.

(c) At such time as the Councilmembers designated as Councilmember Number 8 and Councilmember Number 9 are installed in office the following provisions shall be deemed changed:

(1) All provisions in this Charter for a requirement of an "affirmative vote of at least four members of the Council" or any similar language requiring four votes shall be deemed changed to require "affirmative vote of at least five members of the Council."
(2) All provision of this Charter for a requirement of an "affirmative vote of at least five members of the Council" or any similar language requiring five votes shall be deemed changed to require "an affirmative vote of at least six members of the Council."

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Created: August 20, 2010 21:36 PDT
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