FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A proposal to turn Downtown Fresno’s Selland Arena or the Fresno Convention Center into a city homeless shelter was put forward on Thursday by Fresno City Councilmember Miguel Arias.

The discussion took place as the Fresno City Council proposed declaring a local state of emergency to address affordable housing and homelessness. During his comments, Councilmember Arias expressed his frustration with some of the solutions to the homeless crisis – which he said often involved neighborhoods in his area.

“So far the only solution for shelters in our city have been exclusively in District 3. We volunteered because we had a lot of dilapidated facilities on Motel Drive. We acquired most of them, we secured funding to transition a lot of them into permanent housing,” said Arias.

The issue Arias brought up is that after the locations on Motel Drive get turned into permanent housing, it will reduce the available temporary shelter for the homeless- prompting his proposal that the City of Fresno uses the Selland Area or Convention Center, which are owned by the city, as a citywide homeless shelter.

“By offering every homeless person in the city a bed, we can finally enforce the removal of encampments across our neighborhoods and the parks that are in our city. We cannot do that now we because we do not have enough beds for them,” said Arias.

Arias hopes that with this kind of action, Fresno will get serious about addressing the housing and homeless crisis. He also took this moment to express his frustration at the lack of support from Fresno County, something that was also addressed by other council members in attendance.

The city shelter proposal by Arias on Thursday was met with a long list of challenges this idea would face provided by Fresno City Manager Georgeanne A. White. First off, there was an issue with the 30 events in the next three months that already have signed contracts including Disney On Ice, concerts, and weddings.

One of the biggest hurdles expressed by White is that the City of Fresno doesn’t operate shelters: this is something that they pay others to do as they don’t have the staff or experience to do so.

“All the things we hear the advocates and unhoused complain about our shelter operators operate I don’t know why there would be an expectation that we would do any better for something that we have never done before,” said White.

Fresno City District 2 Councilmember Mike Karbassi said he was “nervous” about the idea of tying the convention center with the housing crisis, as it could have a huge impact on the surrounding businesses and the health of Downtown Fresno.

“I don’t have a final opinion on the convention center, I believe this city the fifth largest city in California needs a healthy downtown. But a robust downtown typically needs a convention center,” said Karbassi.

The proposed idea was not something that District 6’s Councilmember Garry Bredefeld would support.

“I understand people feeling the need to deal with these kinds of situations and to come up with any kind of idea, but using city facilities like convention center facilities doesn’t make sense to me whatsoever. It’s not something that I would support,” said Bredefeld.

The end result of the council’s discussion was a memo created by city staff on the steps the council would have to take to terminate the contracts that have been signed for the use of the Fresno Convention Center and Selland Arena, as well as the creation of a resolution if the council does end up wanting to convert it into a shelter. reached out to the City of Fresno’s Mayor’s Office who told us that Mayor Jerry Dyer is opposed to the idea of converting either the Selland Arena or Fresno Convention Center into housing for the city’s homeless.