PLEASANTON — A judge has ruled in favor of the city of Pleasanton in a lawsuit over a new Costco warehouse store, but the saga years in the making may not be over just yet.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch denied the Pleasanton Citizens for Responsible Growth petition on Friday, ruling in favor of the city. The group had filed its second lawsuit in March in a bid to stop the project, alleging an environmental impact report for the area where Costco is supposed to be build was inadequate.
Even with the ruling, there is still a 60-day period for an appeal. Matt Sullivan, a former councilman who spearheaded the effort by the community group, said they are awaiting the written ruling, and then will weigh their options.
“We are disappointed. We still feel we have a legitimate complaint about the EIR (environmental impact report) and its shortcomings,” Sullivan said.
He said the group will convene and decide what to do next. “As they say, all options are on the table,” Sullivan said.
Costco wants to open a new store in the Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone on a 40-acre site once occupied by Clorox near Stoneridge Drive and the Interstate 680 and 580 interchange. The store itself would be 148,600 square feet, with a detached 20-pump gas station.
Also approved for the Johnson Drive project are two hotels, a Springhill Suites and Town Place Suites, with a total of 231 rooms and a drive-through coffee shop. The first phase of the project is to include the Costco, hotels and drive-through coffee shop, and the second phase more general retail, possibly a brewpub, gym or health clubs, or restaurants.
The most recent lawsuit came after the City Council approved the environmental impact report in February.
The group questioned the air quality computer models used to estimate the greenhouse gas emissions of traffic in the area. They also maintain that environmental review didn’t examine the cumulative impact of recent growth in nearby Dublin and Pleasanton ner the I-580/680 interchange, such as the newer Workday headquarters on Stoneridge Mall Road or the proposed IKEA project in Dublin.
But according to the city, the judge found there was substantial evidence to support the analysis in the environmental report. Specifically, he found the report “adequately considered the cumulative traffic and air quality impacts” of three Dublin projects identified by the petitioner — the IKEA project, Kaiser medical campus project and the At Dublin (a 566-unit housing project that was denied in July), city attorney Dan Sodergren said in an email.
The allegations made this year were similar to the group’s first lawsuit against the city, filed in December 2016. The two main allegations in 2016 were: There was insufficient information regarding air quality effects of the project on the nearby Stoneridge Apartment Complex on Stoneridge Mall Road, and more time was needed for public consideration of the project.
. So in September 2018, the City Council rescinded the environmental report and went back to fill those gaps and provide more air quality analysis. That was the report approved in February.
But the battle over Costco’s proposal began even before the lawsuits. In 2016, a citizens referendum was put on the ballot for the November election that year. Measure MM asked voters to ban retail big box stores of 50,000 square feet or more in the Johnson Drive area, but 63% said no.
Following Measure MM’s defeat, the City Council approved the environmental impact report, which prompted Pleasanton Citizens for Responsible Growth to try gathering enough signatures for another referendum. The group failed to collect the required signatures and less than a month later, in December 2016, it filed the first lawsuit.