Fresno COG Header
Policy Advisory Committee

Friday, March 10, 2023
10:00 AM
COG Sequoia Conference Room
2035 Tulare St #201, Fresno, Ca 93721</s

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accommodations

The Fresno COG offices and restrooms are ADA accessible. Representatives or individuals with disabilities should contact Fresno COG at (559) 233-4148, at least 3 days in advance, to request auxiliary aids and/or translation services necessary to participate in the public meeting / public hearing. If Fresno COG is unable to accommodate an auxiliary aid or translation request for a public hearing, after receiving proper notice, the hearing will be continued on a specified date when accommodations are available.

The Fresno COG Policy advisory committee will take place

in person at the Fresno COG Sequoia CONFERENCE Room


TOLL FREE NUMBER:  888-398-2342




Those addressing the committee must state their first and last name and ANY AFFILLIATED agency for the record.


The Policy Advisory Committee will consider all items on the agenda.  The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

JOINT Transportation Technical/Policy Advisory Committee

Caltrans Report (Caltrans) [INFORMATION]


About Consent Items:

All items on the consent agenda are considered to be routine and non-controversial by COG staff and will be approved by one motion if no member of the Committee or public wishes to comment or ask questions.  If comment or discussion is desired by anyone, the item will be removed from the consent agenda and will be considered in the listed sequence with an opportunity for any member of the public to address the Committee concerning the item before action is taken.

Executive Minutes of February 10, 2023 [APPROVE]
Transportation Development Act (TDA) Claims (Les Beshears) - NONE


Measure C Expenditure Plan Amendment No. 7: Restore $20 Million of Amendment 1 to Grade Separation Program (Tony Boren) [ACTION]

Summary: This item seeks to restore $20 million of the $24.5 million previously held in trust for the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s (CHSRA) Heavy Maintenance Facility (HMF) to the Measure C Grade Separation Program and to allocate those funds to the City of Fresno’s Blackstone/McKinley grade separation project. A background discussion follows.

The 2006 Measure C Expenditure Plan included an Alternative Transportation Program (ATP) that would provide an estimated $102 million for rail consolidation, which would consist of moving the BNSF railroad alignment over to the Union Pacific Railroad alignment near State Route 99.  It was anticipated that the $102 million would merely be seed money for an effort that would run into hundreds of millions of dollars; therefore, the ballot also carried a provision that if rail consolidation was not imminent within 15 years, the money would be dedicated to grade separation projects instead.

In 2010, Fresno Council of Governments and the Fresno County Transportation Authority (FCTA) jointly approved Amendment No. 1 to the Measure C Expenditure Plan to reserve $25 million of the ATP to incentivize a high-speed rail heavy maintenance facility (HMF) in Fresno. The amendment specifically provided that the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) must designate the Fresno Works site as the location for the HMF prior to receiving any of the $25 million. This amendment did not change the scope of the ATP. The remainder of the ATP funding was still reserved as seed money for rail consolidation; however, with CHSRA building its facilities directly adjacent to the UPRR alignment, rail consolidation became much more difficult and costly.

Between 2010 and 2020, HMF site selection at times appeared imminent but was postponed repeatedly for a variety of reasons. Three potential locations had been included in CHSRA’s environmental documents, with Fresno Works as one candidate. In 2017, while CHSRA was actively acquiring right-of-way in Fresno County, FCOG and FCTA jointly modified Amendment No. 1 to provide $500,000 of the $25 million set aside for the High-Speed Rail Facilities Program to secure properties necessary for the Fresno site.  Amendment No. 3 authorized those funds for land options for two years; however, the HMF decision was repeatedly postponed and the options expired unexecuted.

From 2017 through April 2020, FCTA, Fresno COG, and Fresno Economic Development Corporation (EDC) held discussions with CHSRA staff regarding the HMF. Initially, the need for a decision was driven largely by Measure C’s property options. Later, as FCTA considered transitioning rail consolidation to the Grade Separation Program, a decision was necessary to determine how much ATP funding could be dedicated to the Blackstone/McKinley project. FCTA and others made it clear that once a decision was made to pursue the Blackstone/McKinley project, the $24.5 million would not likely be available for the Fresno Works site.

As a part of the discussions among FCTA, Fresno COG, and EDC, CHSRA proposed other facilities be developed at the Fresno Works site in lieu of the HMF, including a maintenance-of-way facility, a training center, a light maintenance facility (which could also serve as a trainset assembly facility) and the communications center. CHSRA claimed that these facilities would offer Fresno County more jobs in an earlier timeframe than the HMF, and that the HMF would not likely be needed or built for 15 years.

EDC performed an analysis of this proposal and concluded that there would be more near-term jobs, but fewer long-term jobs, and that the jobs associated with these alternative facilities would likely be less skilled than the HMF-associated jobs. In addition, Amendment No. 1 only allowed the money to be accessed for an HMF. These other facilities would not qualify and would require a subsequent amendment.

Consistent with the provisions in the Measure C Expenditure Plan, in April 2020 the FCTA Board authorized converting the Rail Consolidation Program to a Grade Separation Program and selected the Blackstone/McKinley grade crossing near Fresno City College as the highest-priority project.  The Board also approved an initial $6 million for preliminary engineering and environmental phases.

In August 2020, four months after the decision to fund the Blackstone/McKinley project, FCTA received a letter from CHSRA's chief executive officer that the proposed the Fresno Works site be used for the alternative facilities previously described.

In June 2021, the Fresno County Transportation Authority (FCTA) considered whether to rescind Amendment No. 1, making the $24.5 million available to the Blackstone/McKinley project, or to provide some or all the $24.5 million to HSR for the alternative facilities. At that time, the FCTA Board voted to request that Fresno COG begin the process to rescind Amendment No. 1, allowing the remaining $24.5 million to be available for the City of Fresno’s Blackstone/McKinley project.

Subsequently, CAHSR CEO Brian Kelly met with Fresno City and County stakeholders to discuss the HMF and the other proposed facilities. Mr. Kelly reiterated that an HMF would not be required for many years, that operations suggest the most advantageous location for an HMF is near a terminal station rather than a midpoint station to avoid deadheading, and that the facilities proposed for Fresno and vicinity would meet many if not all of the job and other economic benefits anticipated by the HMF. Mr. Kelly requested that the stakeholders consider allocating at least some of the $24.5 million to Fresno Works site to be utilized for these other CAHSR facilities.

The City of Fresno evaluated the costs associated with bring public utilities to the site and recommended that $4.5 million of Amendment No. 1 funds be retained to help offset these utility costs, and that the remaining $20 million be allocated back to the Grade Separation Program for the Blackstone McKinley Grade Separation Project. A timely decision on the $20 million is required in order to avoid schedule delays to the Blackstone McKinley project.




November 2006

Voters approve extending Measure C 20 years. Expenditure Plan includes estimated $102 million for rail consolidation within the City of Fresno through the Alternative Transportation Program (ATP)


High Speed Rail (HSR) requests proposals for potential Heavy Maintenance Facility (HMF) sites. FCTA and Fresno COG Boards approve Amendment No. 1 to the 2006 EP, setting aside $25 million of ATP funding for the Fresno Works HMF site

May 2012

HSR completes environment clearance of the Madera to Fresno HSR alignment and begins right of way acquisition

April 2017

FCTA and Fresno COG Boards amend the 2006 Measure C EP to allocate $500,000 of the $25 million set aside by Amendment No. 1 for property options on parcels required for the Fresno Works proposed site of the HMF. City of Fresno obtains property options.

May 2018

City of Fresno extends property options one year

May 2019

Property options expire with no decision by HSR on the HMF site


Staff begins the process to convert the ATP to a Grade Separation Program (GSP), consistent with provisions in the 2006 Expenditure Plan

December 2019

HSR begins discussions with FCTA, Fresno COG and Fresno Economic Development Corporation (EDC) on alternative uses of the Fresno Works site.

January-April 2020

FCTA and Fresno COG staff continue to impress upon HSR the need to make a decision on the HMF and other facilities prior to FCTA converting the ATP to a GSP. No decisions made or communicated by HSR.

April 2020

FCTA Board converts the ATP to the GSP and approves funding for the Blackstone - McKinley Grade Separation Project

August 2020

HSR formalizes their proposal for alternative uses of the Fresno Works site with no mention of a HMF location

June 2021

FCTA Board considers the appropriate use of the remaining $24.5 million reserved by Amendment No.1 and directs staff to work with Fresno COG to rescind Amendment No.1, making the $24.5 million available for Blackstone/McKinley

December 2022

FCTA and Fresno COG staff prepare draft Amendment No. 7 to rescind Amendment No. 1

January 2023

CAHSR CEO Brian Kelly meets with Fresno area stakeholders to discuss alternative uses of the Fresno Works site

March 2023

Fresno COG Policy Board to consider moving $20 million from Amendment No. 1 back to the Grade Separation Program

April 2023

FCTA to consider approving COG Policy Board’s recommended Expenditure Plan Amendment

April 2023

FCTA to consider amending the cooperative funding agreement with City of Fresno to allocate additional $20 million to Blackstone/McKinley project to complete right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation.

Action: Staff requests that the TTC/PAC recommend the Policy Board approve Amendment No. 7 to the 2006 Measure C Expenditure Plan, moving $20 million from Amendment No. 1 back to the Grade Separation Program to help fund the Blackstone McKinley project. Staff further recommends that the remaining $4.5 million remain in Amendment No. 1 until such a time as utility service for the Fresno Works sits can be determined. Once that occurs, a separate amendment will be necessary to allow use of the $4.5 million for site improvements for the proposed CAHSR campus to be located at the Fresno Works site.

Fresno County Microtransit Feasibility Study Consultant Selection (Juan Ramirez) [ACTION]

Summary: Transit agencies in Fresno County have been exploring alternative mobility options to efficiently serve all areas in need of transit services. As a result, microtransit has emerged as a promising option to supplement, support or replace fixed route transit in geographic areas where it is challenging to provide fixed route transit. Often, high-frequency transit isn’t within walking distance of where most people work and live. Microtransit can serve as a first/last mile option for connecting people to major transit service in the urban area. It can also serve as on-demand transportation for hard-to-serve rural and suburban areas.

Due to the dispersed land use patterns of Fresno County, transit planners and operators have begun considering complementary services to fixed-route transit. Microtransit emerges as a solution to fill in the gap for this situation. If microtransit is financially viable and implemented in Fresno County, many existing trips could be diverted from private auto to microtransit and/or public transportation. This would allow residents who lack access to transportation for jobs, medical services, and other daily necessities to have access. Public transit, in many cases, is especially critical for seniors and people with disabilities. Most importantly, this would result in a reduction in vehicle miles traveled while improving air quality and climate change conditions.

Fresno Council of Governments developed a request for proposals for a microtransit feasibility study in Fresno County. After reviewing the proposals, three of the consultants were invited to an interview with a scoring committee. The committee comprised one member from each of the following four agencies: Fresno County Rural Transit Agency (FCRTA), Fresno Area Express (FAX), Clovis Transit, and Fresno COG.  Via Mobility LLC received the highest scores and was recommended to undertake the Fresno County Microtransit Feasibility Study. The firm has vast experience with transit planning and operation globally and has an extensive presence in providing transit service in California.

Attached is the scope of work for the study. The project will be launched in April and is expected to be completed within a year. Please contact project staff Juan Ramirez at with any questions.

Action: Staff requests that TTC/PAC recommend the Policy Board authorize the executive director to enter into a contract with Via Mobility LLC for an amount not to exceed $240,807.93.


About Consent Items

All items on the consent agenda are considered to be routine and non-controversial by COG staff and will be approved by one motion if no member of the Committee or public wishes to comment or ask questions.  If comment or discussion is desired by anyone, the item will be removed from the consent agenda and will be considered in the listed sequence with an opportunity for any member of the public to address the Committee concerning the item before action is taken.

Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) Technical Assistance Contract - Estolano Advisors (Phipps) [ACTION]

Summary: Fresno COG serves as the fiscal agent for the San Joaquin Valley Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) Committee, which is responsible for distributing nearly $19 million in state housing planning funds. Those funds are intended to assist member jurisdictions and regional planning agencies prepare for the sixth-cycle Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) process.

To date, approximately $6 million has been reserved for tasks, activities and deliverables intended of a Valleywide scope and benefit among all eight counties.  In that time, the Valleywide REAP program has delivered multiple projects designed to assist jurisdictions with the RHNA and updates to their individual housing elements.  This includes a comprehensive housing report detailing an inventory of available residentially zoned land uses across all jurisdictions, along with demographic data, potential impediments to housing, best practices and recommendations.

Phase two of Valleywide activities, tasks and deliverables includes $1.5 million in technical assistance work to assist jurisdictions in updating housing elements with Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) requirements, zoning codes, infrastructure planning, GIS mapping and other assistance on an as-needed basis.  Specifically, requests were issued for Valleywide AFFH assistance (by jurisdiction, on an as-needed basis).

Staff requested abbreviated proposals from its REAP consultant "bench" of firms that included rate sheets and additional detail on eligible planning activities for AFFH, to which three responded.  To date, two have been contracted, including Mintier-Harnish and Raimi Associates (with Veronica Tam & Assoc.).  Given the 70 potential Valley jurisdictions that could request AFFH assistance, Fresno COG proposes to add Estolano Advisors as an additional resource for technical help on an as-needed, time-and-materials basis. 

Action: Approve an on-call contract with Estolano Advisors for Valleywide AFFH technical assistance under the REAP program at a cost not to exceed $125,000 and authorize the executive director to sign.

Valleywide Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) Coordinator Contract Extension (Robert Phipps) [ACTION]

Summary:  The San Joaquin Vallley Regional Planning Agencies Executive Directors Committee (COG Directors) is responsible for all Valleywide Regional Early Action Plan (REAP) administrative work. Collectively, the eight Valley COGs are eligible to receive approximately $18.5 million through California's REAP program for local jurisdiction housing planning assistance.

Of that $18.5 million, HCD has designated $6 million for tasks, activities and deliverables that are Valleywide in scope, as opposed to any specific region or county.  Some of those activities and deliverables will include a Valleywide inventory of housing stock, available land, and obstacles endemic to housing production; a zoning code template; a catalog of best practices for housing planning, as well as other deliverables.

The COG Directors review and recommend contracts, funding arrangements and other administrative matters relevant to the SJV REAP program. The California Housing and Community Development Department (HCD) required the SJV COGs and their elected REAP Committee to appoint a “fiscal agent” for the REAP funding, which Fresno COG accepted. Fresno COG is responsible for administering revenues and entering into contracts on the REAP Committee’s behalf.  Following legislative action as part of the 2021 State budget, HCD extended the term for REAP program administration by a full year through Dec. 31, 2024.

Michael Sigala with Sigala, Inc. of Clovis has been serving as the REAP program manager since October 2020 under a $314,200 contract with Fresno COG.  Similarly, Fresno COG holds a second contract with Sigala, Inc. totaling $125,000 for Valleywide coordination, the cost of which is split among all eight regional planning agencies.

Sigala's REAP scope of work originally envisioned a 28-month term, which ended in February.  Staff and the COG Directors propose to extend Sigala, Inc.'s contract by an additional 23 months at the same monthly amount in the original contact (approximately $11,000/mo.) through June 30, 2025. This should provide ample time to wrap up all REAP spending, invoicing and reporting requirements.   The cost would not exceed $250,000 and would come from the Valleywide share of REAP funding.

Action: Approve a contract extension with Sigala, Inc. for REAP program management through June 30, 2025 at a cost not to exceed $250,000.




Items from Staff

Items from Members


Public Presentations

This portion of the meeting is reserved for persons wishing to address the Committee on items within its jurisdiction but not on this agenda.  Note:  Prior to action by the Committee on any item on this agenda, the public may comment on that item.  Unscheduled comments may be limited to three minutes.