The Hanford City Council on Tuesday approved a Community Development Block Grant request expected to bring the city $521,703, with Mayor Travis Paden voting no.
A proposed action plan for the money puts $139,108 towards housing rehabilitation, $48,255 towards the Kings County Commission on Aging’s meal program, $20,000 towards a warming center, $10,000 towards the Kings-Tulare Homeless Alliance, and $104,340 would be used for administrative costs.
The grant application and the action plan will be sent to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for approval.
Community Relations Manager Brian Johnson said that the $104,340 in administrative costs would be partially used to hire a consultant to develop a five-year strategic plan to assess the community’s affordable housing and community development options.
But the big item of contention in the plan was allocating $200,000 to a homeless navigation center. Paden said at the meeting he believed the construction of a large shelter in Hanford for Kings County at large, would incentivize other towns and cities to send homeless people into Hanford.
“I don’t want Hanford to be taken advantage of,” Paden said. “Because I know if you are going to build a center, people are going to start bringing people our way, and I don’t think the citizens would like that.”
City Manager Mario Cifuentez clarified that the action plan consists of proposed activities, and city staff does not have the authority to enter into a formal contract to spend the funds on any specific project.
“The decision tonight would not even allow us to mention a project,” Cifuentez said. “The unanimous direction from Council on March 7 was to prepare the action plan and put out a public hearing based on these dollar amounts. If the majority of Council no longer wants to give money to a navigation center, we can make that change tonight or we can make an amendment.
“We would work with different folks to come back with clear Council direction to do anything,” Cifuentez added.
Other councilmembers voiced support for some kind of navigation center or acknowledged that approving the action plan would just be a first step.
“I have to admit I’ve been late to the party, but I’ve become convinced that we need enough of these beds,” said Councilmember Diane Sharp.
Also Tuesday, the Council voted 4-0 to approve a resolution which identifies a list of projects to receive funding from the road maintenance and rehabilitation account, with Councilmember Sharp abstaining due to a conflict of interest.
The road maintenance and rehabilitation account is estimated to bring in $1,441,165 to the City for the 2023 fiscal year. That funding would be partially used to pay for the list of projects, which includes widening a section of East Lacey Boulevard between Sierra Drive and the San Joaquin Valley or Union Pacific railroads. Another potential project includes the installation of a traffic signal at Lacey Boulevard and Ninth Avenue.
The first phase of the widening project is estimated to cost $7,475,000, with the second phase estimated at $3,426,000. The traffic signal is estimated at $566,000.
The Council also unanimously approved Hanford’s Local Road and Safety Plan, a document detailing some of the City’s traffic data and identifying Hanford’s most dangerous intersections. A preliminary version of the plan found that two-thirds of Hanford’s crashes occur at intersections, and some of the city’s high-risk intersections include 11th Avenue and Lacey, 11th Avenue and Florinda Street and 12th Avenue and Lacey.
The Council also voted 5-0 in favor of allowing the California Municipal Finance Authority to issue revenue bonds. A portion of the bonds proceeds would be used for Family HealthCare Network to construct a clinic at 939 South 12th Ave.
The vote leaves Hanford with no financial or legal obligations for the bonds, but a public hearing was required by federal tax law.