A Quick Note to Mike Karbassi

By Kevin Hall

Mike Karbassi was recently elected to the Fresno City Council to represent District 2 in Northwest Fresno. His Twitter praise for an inferior editorial by District 5 councilor Luis Chavez, home to most of Fresno’s heavy industry, led me to be tweet back at him, and he kindly replied (below). My longer response wouldn’t fit easily into tweets, so this:

August 19, 2019

Dear Mike,

Responses to your Fresno Bee interview question “What is the City Council’s responsibility to help Fresno face climate change and reduce pollution?”

“Most of the pollution in the city of Fresno comes from mobile sources on Highway 99, the Bay Area and China.” – FALSE (Who’s your source? Buddy Mendes?)

On-road mobile sources are important, particularly diesel trucks and buses. Off-road mobile is, too, meaning farm and construction equipment, dairies (see Shehadey’s Bar 20, which now means 20,000 cows), and biomass (see Calwa).

Bay Area drift contributes maybe 10-12% of our ozone precursors and none — zero — of our particulate pollution.

And China is perhaps the Valley Air Board’s most meaningless talking point ever, just never say it again, please. (They’ll do it for you.)

Karbassi“We are limited by what we can do about this at the local level.” WRONG, SO WRONG

Local progress is limited only by the imagination and intelligence of our elected officials. So far, that’s been very limited in Fresno. Chavez’s attitude regarding the industrial-zoned parcels EIR that it’s just about mitigation at this point is dangerous to the lives of all Fresno residents. (Did he delete that tweet? It seemed to leave the city legally exposed. Again.)

Arias and Esparza have the advantage on you here; they hired people who know more than they do (easy enough), one of whom even has direct access to the combined knowledge of every environmental justice and nonprofit organization at work on air pollution in the valley (see CVAQ). At the very least, before answering such a question, use the Google. This took 30 seconds to find: https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2019/06/state-and-local-governments-seeking-climate-change-solutions-have-plenty-of-options/

“One solution is to improve bicycle and walking routes. This is an important part of providing safe routes to schools.” TRUE

…and south Fresno needs them badly. Developer impact fees have to be raised.

Karbassi Bee answer“We can adopt smart planning strategies to relieve traffic congestion. This would go a long way to reduce pollution.” NO, NOT A LONG WAY AT ALL

…and the 1980s wants their answer back. It’s important to keep carbon monoxide levels dropping, but I suspect you mean more lane on freeways and big roads, particularly in the sprawl. Presumably you’ll be carrying Assemi’s agenda for west of 99 and the Veterans Boulevard bridge.

Vehicle Miles Traveled is the real issue, and sprawl is the cause. We need Smart Growth (Google it).

“We can also increase the quality of life for residents by completing the Eaton Trail, which can be enjoyed by families and active seniors in northwest Fresno.”UNRELATED

Karbassi Bee answer

But a clear call for more public dollars to Fresno’s wealthiest neighborhoods. We don’t have a tale of two cities; we have a city with two tails: 180 and 168 headed east. Oh, wait, and 41 north (but not south), 180 west, 99 north and south. Six tails? Plus, your major financial backers and political endorsers worked hard to block Measure P and its park financing for Eaton Trail, so there’s that.


Kevin Hall

p.s., You didn’t mention climate change in your response. Not a good sign, friend. Here’s a good place to start: the U.N. rapporteur’s report last month on Climate Change and Poverty.


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