REEDLEY – The city, residents and business leaders joined together Tuesday morning for the Reedley Chamber’s first “Coffee with the City;” an event they hope is the first of many.
Introduced as part of the city’s new agreement with the chamber of commerce, the Coffee with the City event on Aug. 29 included remarks from chamber CEO and President Erik Valencia, Reedley City Manager Nicole Zieba and three city department leaders. Zieba said that similar to how the Good Morning Reedley events also hosted by the chamber are for the city to get to know businesses, the Coffee with the City event is meant for businesses to get to know the city.
“We thought it would be great to provide an opportunity for our city departments to come and present what’s going on,” Valencia said. “There’s lots of different news items that happen throughout the year, and this is a great way for us to connect and really work together for us to support one another.”
City staff at the event stressed that they are always available to help the community by answering questions and directing people to resources to make sure they get what they need.
“We love your questions, because the more our community knows, the more you can help us get information to others,” Zieba said. “If you were to call city hall, the person picking up the phone is going to be kind … and if they don’t know (the answer), they’re going to get you to where you need to go.”
The police chief, community development director and community services director all provided an overview of things their department is working on currently. Zieba said that the city wants to cycle through department heads at each event, which they plan to hold every three months. This way the department heads have plenty of time to discuss their work and answer questions.
If there appears to be a lot of interest in the happenings of a particular department, Zieba said they would bring that department head back even if they had recently presented at a Coffee with City event.
To start, chief of police Joe Garza discussed a rise in car thefts in Reedley, domestic violence reporting and the city’s restorative justice program, while also addressing audience questions about homelessness and human trafficking.
In better depth, Garza shared information on a new domestic violence data dashboard for Fresno County reports on the Marjaree Mason Center website. Garza serves on the board of directors for the Marjaree Mason Center, which provides resources for survivors of domestic violence and does education and outreach efforts to prevent domestic violence. He said the community needs to “continue being vigilant” with identifying and reporting domestic violence.
“We need to be aware of what the signs of domestic violence are,” Garza said. “You as neighbors, as friends, as family members, need to understand that when someone is in an abusive relationship, you need to step up and try to find help for those individuals.”
On the topic of homelessness, Garza said his officers work within the bounds of state law to address community concerns and are constantly checking up on the people experiencing homelessness in Reedley, of which there are few.
The Reedley Police Department is also getting close to filling all of its available staff positions, Garza said.
From the community development department, director Rodney Horton explained how his office deals with city planning and residential, commercial and economic development.
Horton said the number one thing his department is working on right now is a zoning code update, which will be going before the city council this fall. He said that because the state of California has so many housing laws, development within the city may not always be where everyone wants it to be, but it’s important that Reedley is in compliance with those regulations.
The community development department is also working on being a business-friendly city, Horton said. This entails ensuring that the permitting process is smooth and that development approvals happen quickly.
Horton said the city has also recently reduced its conditional use permit fee for development in the downtown by 75%, bringing it down from $3,900 to under $1,000. The city wants to incentivize commercial development downtown before it “takes off in fringe areas of the city,” Horton said.
“We recognize that downtown Reedley is the heartbeat of the city, and we want to make sure that the heart is strong,” Horton said. “We don’t want to see the outside grow and the downtown suffer.”
Also at the event, Community Services Director Sarah Reid shared information about upcoming community events and volunteer opportunities.
Reid said that to keep up with the rise in popularity of pickleball, the city is working with Kings Canyon Unified School District on the logistics of sharing Reedley High School’s new pickleball court. She said that recently, the city has offered pickleball to senior citizens at the community center every Wednesday.
Anyone who wants to stay in touch with the community services department can visit their Facebook or Instagram pages or head into the community center to see physical event flyers as well. Reid also said that they are often looking for youth and adult volunteers to help out with senior meal service, clean-up days and other events.
The city of Reedley has many upcoming events for community members to join in on that city staff also mentioned at the event.
The annual open house and barbecue at the Reedley Municipal Airport will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 7, and is free for community members to join. The event will have food and attendees can take free plane rides until noon.
Reid also spoke about the 2023 Fiesta Walk/Run sponsored by Gnardog Crossfit. The event begins at 9 a.m. Oct. 14 and registration is now open.
Garza shared that there will also be an annual prayer vigil for domestic violence outside the Marjaree Mason Center’s Reedley location on G Street on Oct. 19, as October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Other city events are available to view on the city’s website and social media pages.