Last week (the final week of 2018), Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability and the Public Interest Law Project filed a lawsuit on behalf of Comunidades Unidas Por Un Cambio against the County of Fresno.
For more than a year, the county has failed to take mandated actions necessary to secure safe housing for its families; for three years it has violated state policy by refusing to assess the severe lack of water and sewer service in disadvantaged communities; for 10 years it has continually delayed completion of a general plan; and for far longer than that, it has failed to invest in housing, infrastructure, and services in its historic – and historically overlooked – neighborhoods.
Residents from disadvantaged communities across Fresno County came together to file this lawsuit because families have the right to live in healthy neighborhoods and healthy homes. Without proactive planning by the county, disadvantaged communities will continue to rely on contaminated drinking water through their taps, failing septic systems, and a lack of stormwater drainage and other basic infrastructure. Without implementing the housing and land use programs the county itself agreed to implement, inadequate housing choice will force families to continue to choose between overcrowded conditions and substandard homes, neighborhoods near industrial pollution, or neighborhoods without safe drinking water, and it will give many of the county’s most vulnerable people no choice at all as they weather another winter without reliable housing.
The county has said that it is working on amendments to its General Plan and Zoning Ordinance to address these issues. It’s been 10 years. Comunidades Unidas por un Cambio demands action now. The county needs to do its job.