After nearly four hours of discussion Tuesday, the San Ramon Planning Commission elected to postpone its decision on a 32-pump Costco gas station until Dec. 15, directing staff to collect more information on traffic and neighborhood impacts that may result from the project.
Commissioners voted 4-0 to table the discussion in favor of further review of traffic congestion, the overall scope of the project and potential impacts on the Camino Tassajara General Plan from the project, which would bring a Costco gas station in San Ramon across the street from the Costco store in Danville.
"I'm not arguing that a gas station couldn't be built on that site. For me, the scale of this is something of a problem; the traffic that will be generated by it and the Costco Warehouse together is something that I'm concerned about," Commissioner Rick Marks said at Tuesday night's meeting.
"From the traffic information other environmental issues flow," he added. "We weren't able to get an answer on the number of cars that are on that street right now and that's basic information."
Proposed to replace the Office Depot building at 3111 Fostoria Way in San Ramon, the gas station would be associated with the Costco Wholesale store and tire center, located just over the Danville border at 3150 Fostoria Way.
Construction of the station would require the demolition of the Office Depot store, and would include a 12,663-square-foot canopy with signage on all sides, an approximately 200-square-foot control facility and associated site improvements and landscape enhancement on the 2.88-acre lot.
Some residents who live in the area have taken particular issue with potential traffic, noise and health issues that may arise from the project.
"The proposed mega gas station is near hundreds of homes and families and will negatively impact traffic, noise, public health and safety, jobs and air quality," representatives from Safer San Ramon, a community group opposed to the project, said. "All residents, Danville included, who will be impacted by this project are strongly encouraged to speak up and share your concerns with the commission."
In tabling the discussion, no commissioner outwardly stated a desire to vote down the project, but some did acknowledge that traffic impacts were a particular area of concern that needed additional review.
"I never said that a service station wouldn't be proper here. In fact it is; that's not debatable," Commissioner Howard Frank said. "My problem is the scope and the scale and I don't see an indication that a service station of this scope ... was contemplated by our policy makers. So I ask for some clarification of that issue."
"Right now it feels like I don't know enough about the traffic situation and I don't fault the traffic engineers who did this. I fault COVID and their ability to do what we typically do and get some real world counts," Marks added. "So I don't see why we have to approve this project right now. We are potentially approving something that will detrimentally affect the neighborhood or not."
Commissioner Jean Kuznick was more amenable to the project, saying she found the gas station to not have a significant impact on the community it would be a part of.
"Something I jotted down was the difference between no impact versus no significant impact ... If you read through the studies, (they) repeatedly say that it did not reach significant impact," she said. "How you respond to that emotionally is different, but what I believe we are required to do is look at this (with) more concrete methodologies. I don't think (traffic) is going to be the onslaught that people anticipate."
Commissioner Gary Alpert recused himself from the conversation, saying he would do so out of an abundance of caution because he has "a financial interest in the Costco Corporation."
Residents will be able to tune-in and watch the San Ramon Planning Commission's continued discussion on the Costco gas station during its regular meeting on Dec. 15.
Public comment on the topic can be sent via email to [email protected] Comments must be sent prior to 6 p.m. on Dec. 15 and include “Public Comment 12/15/2020” in the subject line.