Mayor Lee Brand, 2018 file photo
Written by David Castellon
Mayor Lee Brand came into office with a promise to make Fresno more business friendly.
On Wednesday, he announced his latest initiative to achieve that goal, the formation of a 19-member committee to look at the processes the city uses to issue construction permits, review plans and suggest ways to improve them.
“My goal is to make Fresno the most business-friendly city in the state of California and the United States, and business friendly for every size of industry — from mom and pop [stores] to Amazon,” Brand said during a City Hall press conference this Thursday morning.
Those improvements could include hiring additional staff to work in Fresno’s Development and Resource Management Department, which issues permits and reviews plans for new construction.
“There are many things we will look at. There is nothing that is out of bounds,” the mayor added.
His “dream team” mostly is comprised of people who have worked on home and business development in the past, along with the mayor’s Chief of Staff Tim Orman; Fresno Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Nathan Ahle; and City Council members Clint Olivier, Steve Brandau and Luis Chavez, all of whom stood alongside Brand as he announced his initiative, which he dubbed “Business Friendly Fresno 2.01!”
“Business Friendly Fresno has been a priority for our board of directors for at least the two years I’ve been here and [for] several years before,” Ahle said.
“We believe this is the right group under the right leadership to tackle this issue that’s affecting our members. It’s affecting so many businesses throughout the city and throughout our area, and people who want to come and do business here in Fresno.”
The mayor said his committee would hold its first meeting following the press conference, but he gave no specific deadline for the city to receive the recommendations for changing its processes and policies other than saying he would like to see them within about a year.
He also noted that some improvements already are in the works, as Fresno has purchased software that will allow the submission of permit applications and architectural drawings online — without anyone having to get in line at City Hall do so — and “we will be able to track each project and for the first time ever, have the ability to clearly identify shortcomings in our processes and develop appropriate solutions.”
“It will be completely migrated into the city network in the next few months, and the beta testing will begin shortly,” Brand said.
Here is the are the Business Friendly Fresno 2.0! Committee members:
– Tim Orman (chairman) – Mayor’s office
– Anne Kloose – Pacific Gas and Electric
– Jeff Roberts – Granville Homes
– Jeff Harris – Wilson Development
– Dennis Gaab – Century Builders
– Steve Spencer – Spencer Enterprises, Inc.
– Rick Ginder – Ginder Development Corp.
– Lelan Parnigian – Fowler Packing
– Mike Pickett – Don Pickett & Associates, Inc.
– Larry Fortune – Fortune Associates
– Sal Gonzales – Lance-Kashian & Company
– Dirk Poeschel – Dirk Poeschel Land Development Services, Inc.
– Ed Dunkel – Precision Civil Engineering, Inc.
– Ruth Evans – The Evans HR Group
– Nick Yovino – Former Fresno DARM director
-Nathan Ahle – CEO, Fresno Chamber of Commerce
– Clint Olivier – Councilman, District 7
– Luis Chavez – Councilman, District 5
– Steve Brandau – Councilman, District 2
Source: City of Fresno