City Council Recognizes Small Business Saturday, Agree to Modify Shaw Avenue Plan

Mayor Drew Bessinger was absent due to self imposed quarantine and councilmember Lynne Ashbeck opted to participate via Webex on Monday, Nov. 18’s city council meeting. (Jorge Rodriguez/Clovis Roundup)

The third and last Clovis city council meeting of the month was held Monday, Nov. 16.

Clovis Mayor Drew Bessinger was at a meeting on Monday, Nov. 9 that took place at the Fresno Yosemite Airport Administration Building, on Tuesday Bessinger found out someone at the meeting had tested positive for COVID-19. Bessinger decided to self quarantine even though he didn’t have any symptoms. He has since tested negative for the virus, but still attended the Monday’s meeting via Webex out of precaution.

Councilmember Lynne Ashbeck was also not present during the meeting, choosing to participate virtually via Webex. Since both Bessinger and Ashbeck were not present in chambers, any vote would have to be a roll call vote to ensure everyone’s vote was counted correctly.

At the beginning of the meeting a proclamation was given recognizing November 28, 2020 as Small Business Saturday. Representatives of the Business Organizations of Old Town Clovis (B.O.O.T.) and the Clovis Chamber of Commerce were in attendance to receive the proclamation.

Councilmember Bob Whalen said that shopping on Small Business Saturday has a great impact in the community and is crucial for the local economy.

“Locally, we have a real strong small business sector that is not just an important component of our local economy, but also a really important part of our fiber to the city of Clovis,” Whalen said. “We love going to the small shops that are all over Clovis, but particularly in Old Town Clovis.”

Cora Shipley, President of B.O.O.T, was in attendance to receive the proclamations and also spoke some words on the difficulties small businesses have had this year.

“We haven’t lost very many (businesses), but we have lost a couple and that is a blow to Old Town, that is a blow to Clovis as a whole,” Shipley said. “We do appreciate everything you do for us and we are just going to move forward and try to survive and we will.”

After the proclamation, the council moved to the items on the agenda and the first item to be heard was a request to amend the text of the Shaw Avenue Specific Plan. The amendment looks to change the Shaw Avenue Specific Plan to allow for drive-thru businesses on Shaw Avenue between Clovis Avenue and Temperance Avenue.

Made in 1978 with updates in 1994 and 1999, the Shaw Avenue Specific Plan looked to make it more friendly for pedestrians and cyclists to move along Shaw Avenue without the specific threat of a vehicle coming out of a drive-thru into the avenue.

However, this made it difficult for businesses that wanted to have a drive-thru to be attracted to the area. Several exemptions to allow drive-thrus were made throughout the years, which included a bank, a car wash, a store, several restaurants and most recently the Raising Cane’s restaurant.

The amendment will modify the Shaw Avenue Specific Plan to remove the prohibition of drive-thrus and only require a permit, which is typical for drive-thru businesses.

Councilmember Vong Mouanoutoua asked what the difference was between having a traditional drive-thru or what some stores are doing with the drive-up pickup. Mouanoutoua gave the example of the Walmart Neighborhood Store on Fowler and Shaw Avenues where cars sit idle to wait for their groceries.

Rick Caperton, the presenter, said that because there was no actual drive-thru in the structure of the building then that was not considered a drive-thru.

Councilmember Whalen commented that the intent for having this was now outdated and that this needed to be updated.

“One of the concerns, I remember hearing when we would talk about Shaw Avenue is that we didn’t want it to become another Blackstone Avenue,” Whalen said. “This is probably a bit of a dated policy, it does make sense for us to update this and move forward.”

The amendment was voted on and passed unanimously by all councilmembers.

Jorge Rodriguez has a passion for journalism and wants to bring the community information and great stories. After high school Jorge joined the U.S. Army and while in active duty he was deployed twice to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While in college he worked for the Fresno City College Rampage and the Fresno State Collegian newspapers. He graduated from Fresno State in 2019 with a degree in print journalism.