Fresno Mayor Lee Brand gives his penultimate state-of-the-city address before a crowd of nearly 900 people at the Fresno Convention Center. Photo by David Castellon.
With a little more than 18 months left before his term as Fresno’s mayor ends, Lee Brand said he’ll be busy on the job during that time.
Among the tasks he has planned is to fulfill his campaign promise to generate 10,000 new jobs in the city by the end of his first term, and early on he got big boost toward that goal when Amazon and Ulta Beauty opened their newly-built customer fulfillment centers here, and The Gap announced plans to expand its existing center.
But during his state-of-the-city address Wednesday afternoon at the Fresno Convention Center, the mayor announced his new initiatives of the year, which includes reducing trash in the city and seeking more funding for public safety, parks and other services. Nearly 900 people were in attendance for the speech.
He said Fresno’s biggest challenge is developing the resources to rebuild infrastructure, as well as expand the services of public safety and the city’s Public Works Department to needed levels.
“This is simply Fresno’s reality. We simply don’t have enough property tax, sales tax and other revenues” necessary to get the city’s core services to where they should be, Brand said.
The mayor noted that in November, city voters rejected Measure P, a tax measure to fund parks and arts program.
And before that, in June of last year, Brand announced he would seek a half-cent sales tax for public safety and parks, but he quickly backed down over strong opposition to the tax.
Despite this, Lee said Wednesday that he believes a compromise is possible, and he plans to meet with Measure P opponents and supporters to see if they can reach one and turn it into a new ballot measure in 2020.
Brand, who said he opted not to run for a second term as mayor at the urging of his wife and other family members, said one of the biggest complaints he receives from residents and visitors is the high amount of trash on Fresno’s streets and highways.
“It’s ugly, and we can do something about it,” he said, and then announced his second new initiative, Keep Fresno Beautiful, that will develop and support public, private partnerships with a goal of establishing sustainable programs that will effectively tackle trash in the city of Fresno.
The city also will take action to reduce the refuse problem, which may include cracking down on illegal trash dumping.
In fact, Brand said, a pilot program to promote litter abatement is being developed, which would include awarding city cleanup contracts to businesses that hire people transitioning into the workforce, including veterans and homeless adults.
Current plans also include one-time assistance to clean up properties on the condition that the owners keep them clean.
Another goal is to hold cleanup events in each Fresno City Council district annually, as well as to organize smaller, neighborhood cleanups, Brand said,
“It’s a big step forward, and we need your help to keep Fresno clean and beautiful.”