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Traffic Questions Prompt Fresno Council to Delay Approval of New Northwest Costco
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 1 month ago on
March 7, 2024

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The Fresno City Council votes 6-0 on Thursday to table approving a Costco project.

Councilmember Mike Karbassi wants more time to answer questions about traffic concerns.

Costco wants to move from its Shaw/Golden State location to Herndon/Riverside Drive.


The Fresno City Council wants more time to consider a new Costco project in northwest Fresno.

Mike Karbassi portrait

“This is about making a responsible decision and being business-friendly.” — Fresno City Councilmember Mike Karbassi

By a 6-0 vote, the council on Thursday delayed approval after a hearing lasting more than two hours. There is no date scheduled for the council to hear the project again.

Costco has been looking for a new space since 2018. The new location, at Herndon Avenue and Riverside Drive — suggested by city staff — will replace the site at Shaw Avenue near Golden State Boulevard.

Costco leases the building on Shaw Avenue from The Kashian Group. The lease expires September 2025. The goal, Costco and city officials said, was to open the new Costco by the end of 2025.

“We’re out of space. That space cannot accommodate a full-size Costco warehouse,” Pari Holliday, Costco’s real estate development director, told councilmembers.

The new store would feature a larger gas station with 32 pumps and a car wash— the first in the Central Valley for Costco.

Karbassi Says He’s Concerned About Car Wash Traffic

Councilmember Mike Karbassi, who represents the northwest Fresno area where the new Costco would be located, expressed concerns over traffic and the proposed car wash.

The land — currently a vacant plot of dirt — is zoned for commercial activity. Costco could develop without a rezone “by right.” However, it would need a rezoning to include the car wash.

Karbassi was concerned that cars waiting not only for the 32-pump gas station but also for a car wash may spill onto outer streets.

“I think that if there wasn’t a car wash … there might be an easier way to queue people that are waiting for the gas station,” Karbassi said after the vote to delay.

Councilmembers were not allowed to directly speak with Costco representatives outside a public hearing because land use issues are considered a quasi-judicial process.

“I’m absolutely business-friendly. I want the Costco to go through. I’m looking for a way to say I approve, Karbassi said. “I don’t want to be hasty and approve this — because I want those jobs, and I do —  but (not) do it in a way that’s going to transfer that burden of negative impact to taxpayers five years from now, 10  years from now.

“This is about making a responsible decision and being business-friendly.”

“Let the record speak for itself,” Costco attorney Anna Shimko said after the hearing. She would not elaborate. “I think it’s pretty clear. They continued it. We will come back.”

Dyer Advocates for Costco

Mayor Jerry Dyer advocated for the project, saying it helps with the economy. Construction will create up to 500 jobs, Dyer said. The Fresno Economic Development Commission also supported the new store.

The 300 employees currently working at the Shaw Avenue Costco would transfer.

“Costco has also provided significant sales tax revenue over the years to the city of Fresno, which in turn has allowed us, as a city, to provide increased levels of service, to members of our community,” Dyer told the city council.

Costco said that 60% of Fresno households are Costco members.

Dyer and Costco representatives said when a Costco relocates, sales increase by 15%.

Despite being billed as such in the past, the new Costco would not be the world’s largest. The actual floor space will be the standard size for a Costco, at 219,000 square feet.

However, there will be an adjacent “last mile” facility, or market delivery operation. The MDO would allow customers to test out larger items, such as furniture and big-screen TVs, and have those items delivered to their homes.

Costco said it has a current MDO facility in Fresno. That would transfer to the new northwest facility.

A look at where the new Costco in northwest Fresno would be built. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)

Concerns About Traffic, Environment

Karbassi expressed concern over traffic patterns for the new Costco. He dug deep, asking the city public works and planning departments detailed questions about widening roads, improvements to traffic signals, and possible mitigation measures.

Costco said it would extend Spruce Avenue — on the north side of the proposed location — between Riverside Drive and Strother Avenue, where Spruce currently does not exist. Costco would also create a new road, Arthur Avenue, to the east. Trucks would use Arthur Avenue only.

Traffic signals would either be improved or created at Herndon/Riverside, and Riverside/Fir into Costco.

Councilmember Miguel Arias had several questions concerning environmental impacts. Questions included grilling Costco representatives about how many employees bike to work, and if there are bike racks at the store. The retailer said it does or will offer bike racks. Currently, five of 300 employees bike to work. Stores feature shower facilities for employees.

To comply with the city’s Responsible Neighborhood Market Act, Costco agreed to buy and retire existing liquor licenses.

Technically, the city council is being asked to certify the environmental impact report; amend the general plan for land use; rezone the land use allowing for the car wash; conditional use permits for the car wash, gas pumps, and to sell alcohol; and to allow for taller than normal parking lot light fixtures.

Karbassi, Annalisa Perea, Tyler Maxwell, Luis Chavez, Garry Bredefeld, and Nelson Esparza supported tabling the item. Esparza seconded Karbassi’s motion. Arias participated in the debate but was absent during the vote.

Rendering of the front of the proposed new Costco in northwest Fresno. (City of Fresno)

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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