City of Clovis Settles with Desiree Martinez

Affordable Housing
Affordable Housing

(Editor’s note: The City of Clovis made public the announcement of a settlement agreement between the City and Desiree “Dez” Martinez that could have dramatic implications in Clovis regarding affordable housing. The official announcement is included below in its entirety.)

The City of Clovis and Desiree Martinez are pleased to announce a settlement in the Desiree Martinez v. City of Clovis litigation. The settlement agreement paves the way for the creation of groundbreaking City programs and significant investments to support and leverage over 3,000 additional affordable housing opportunities in Clovis.

The settlement ends years of litigation between the City of Clovis and Ms. Martinez regarding the City’s land use and planning policies. Focusing now on creating affordable housing opportunities in Clovis, the settlement allows both sides to avoid future costly and prolonged legal proceedings.

In a major victory for housing advocates, the City of Clovis will build several units for low-income renters after settling a legal battle started by activist Desiree “Dez” Martinez. 2017 photo by Peter Maiden
In a major victory for housing advocates, the City of Clovis will build several units for low-income renters after settling a legal battle started by activist Desiree “Dez” Martinez. 2017 photo by Peter Maiden

Ms. Martinez’s mother moved the family to Clovis from Oregon when Ms. Martinez was 16. Now disabled, she wanted to move back, but could find no affordable home in the city. She brought the case, with the help of Central California Legal Services (CCLS), the Public Interest Law Project (PILP) and the Law Office of Patience Milrod, to move Clovis to a plan and zone for families of all income levels. Of the settlement, Ms. Martinez said, “Life presents numerous challenging decisions and choices. At times, we must navigate these decisions to pave the way for wise choices. The legal battle initially revolved around my residency situation in Clovis, and after four years of grappling with the city’s regulations, it compelled me to delve deeper than anticipated. This legal case has transcended beyond my personal circumstances; it now represents the struggle of every individual combatting the high cost of living and striving to survive. Today, this lawsuit symbolizes the fight for a more inclusive community that embraces people from all backgrounds. For me, this legal battle marks just the beginning as I have more tasks ahead. However, it has also created a significant opportunity for many others to follow suit.”

“In partnership with Ms. Martinez and her lawyers, we are pleased to announce we have reached a settlement that includes a comprehensive plan to provide affordable housing options for all who want to call Clovis home. Clovis, and its residents, are committed to address the housing crisis with solutions that will provide housing opportunities in the near and long-term for our future neighbors. We look forward to working cooperatively with CCLS, PILP, attorney Milrod, community groups and developers as we all move forward with implementing the new programs,” said Clovis Mayor Lynne Ashbeck.

“With this settlement, the City of Clovis shows regional leadership in the crucial battle to decently and affordably house all our residents. This agreement brings to the Central Valley best practices from all over the state and country. We congratulate Clovis on its wisdom and vision, and look forward to continuing to work with them toward these goals,” said Milrod.

“The City of Clovis has taken a vital step forward in addressing the housing needs of those who need it most. CCLS is proud to have played a key role in helping the City implement changes to create opportunities and housing for individuals at all income levels to live and prosper in the City of Clovis,” said Stephanie Hamilton Borchers, CCLS director of litigation and advocacy.

“Each of the programs included in the agreement addresses a significant barrier to much needed affordable housing and in turn will provide significant benefits to the City’s residents and the region,” said Valerie Feldman of PILP.

Major points in the settlement agreement include the following:

  • The City of Clovis will establish a Local Housing Trust Fund and has committed to contributing at least $1.8 million to support affordable housing developments.
  • The City of Clovis will dedicate City-owned sites to the development of affordable housing.
  • The City of Clovis will rezone small infill parcels throughout the City to accommodate approximately 1,300 multifamily dwelling units.
  • The City of Clovis will adopt an ordinance to require that up to 10% of units in mid- to large-scale new housing development projects will be affordable to low-income families.
  • The City of Clovis will create a development impact fee deferral program, deferring the payment of significant portions of City development impact fees for qualifying affordable housing projects.

This settlement agreement is expected to be approved by the court in the coming weeks, after which the work of establishing and implementing the various programs will begin.


  • Community Alliance

    The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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