City of Selma Sued Over Housing Development

April 18, 2008 9:28:42 PM PDT
A Fresno County Judge will soon decide if a controversial Selma housing development can move forward despite tough opposition. Only 12 homes have been sold in the Valley View subdivision. The developer's idea is to rent unsold properties and build more houses to also rent. But the City of Selma and neighbors like Manuel Velasco don't like that idea. Velasco is like many people who live near the Valley View. Velasco had high hopes when developers constructed a new neighborhood in a tough part of Selma. Velasco said, "I thought it was going to bring up the value on your homes and everything, now that they want to rent them."

Velasco fears renting will attract lower income families. The city stopped issuing building permits when they learned the empty homes are going up for rent. The developer then sued.

In a Fresno County Courtroom on Friday William Brewer who is an attorney representing the developer told a judge, "The building permits that have been requested and are being refused comply with the zoning codes, comply with the building codes, and comply with all the codes of the city."

Brewer asked the judge to force the City of Selma to issue building permits for the project. But the City's Attorney Neal Costanzo said the changes are unfair to the few who bought here. Costanzo said, "Potentially decreasing the values of their homes and certainly changing the nature of the environment in which they live."

The judge said he will soon make a decision on Valley View's future.

Raj Sing and his family are renting. Sing said people shouldn't fear renters, because they're like everyone else trying to make ends meet. Sing said, "Homes are very cheap, but we can't afford it right now."

In court, we learned a total of 36 homes have been built at Valley View. The project could bring in more than 150-homes. The City of Selma is fighting because they don't want this entire neighborhood to be for rent.