FRESNO — According to a press release sent out by the organizations,  Fresno Reel Pride and Fresno Filmworks are united in firmly opposing any rezoning or repurposing of Fresno's Tower District and the Tower Theatre location.

The theatre sits in a commercial zoning area which outlines that a "community and religious assembly facilities in excess of 2,000 square-feet is not permitted as an accessory use of subject property" as defined by the Tower District Specific Plan, according to the release.

"As such, if accommodations were made to allow businesses that fall outside of the zoning ordinances, we believe it would negatively impact many cultural events, as well as the sustainability of the cultural arts district that the Tower neighborhood has become known for," the organizations stated in the release.

A rezoning or repurposing would also adversely affect a significant number of pre-existing businesses, their ability to operate in their current capacity, and/or their future valuation, the release went on to say.

"Although we support the owner's right to sell their property, we are gravely disappointed that they would do so in a way that negatively affects many residents, businesses, and community groups. The recent attempted sale of the Tower Theatre—to an organization that would require a district-wide rezone in order to operate legally—infringes upon the vested interests of surrounding property owners," organizers said.

"Additionally, due to the lack of any condemnation of hate groups and outside individuals, and their caustic approach to Tower District community members—inclusive of those members who identify as LGBTQ—our organizations will not, in good conscience, give monetary support to a business or ownership that does not fully acknowledge, support, and protect their diverse surrounding community," the cinema organizers said. 

Organizers said that while the Tower District continues to have great spiritual value to many in the community, they will not continue to support the Tower Theatre under its current management structure and will look elsewhere for venues to support the respective film festivals as long as the situation remains unresolved.

The statements were signed by Kathleen Arambula-Reyna, Board President and Festival Director Fresno Reel Pride and Benjamin Woodcock, Board President Fresno Filmworks and Fresno Film Festival.

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