A group of residents has filed an appeal with the city over the San Ramon Planning Commission's decision to approve a 32-pump Costco gas station, citing traffic and environmental concerns among other potential issues.
Filed on Dec. 21 by San Ramon's Reza Mahmoodi on behalf of residential group Safer San Ramon, the appeal challenges the approval of the project, stating that impacts related to traffic, the environment and quality of life would be detrimental to the community, further stating that the review process itself was flawed.
"We sadly have to appeal the MEGA Costco gas station to the City Council since the unelected Planning Commission put Costco's greed before the needs and concerns of residents," Safer San Ramon posted on its Facebook page. "Why doesn't Costco have to do what much smaller gas stations are forced to do and conduct a full and comprehensive EIR so that residents know all of the impacts this will have on traffic, air quality and public health? Why is the City giving Costco special treatment?"
Originally approved by the Planning Commission on Dec. 15, the gas station would be located at the site of the Office Depot building on 3111 Fostoria Way and serve the Costco warehouse store located across the city's border within Danville town limits -- the Danville Costco store located at 3150 Fostoria Way currently does not have a gas station.
The project will also 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.
Among a number of potential problems, petitioners took particular issue with the negative impacts the gas station would have on traffic circulation in the region, finding that the city's review of traffic impacts was less than satisfactory.
Arguing that a traffic study should have been conducted by an independent entity, appellants are concerned that since the gas station is located outside of the main Costco grounds -- about a street away from the store -- additional traffic congestion will most likely occur.
"When a fueling facility is placed within the parking lot of a Costco warehouse store, and is highly popular or experiences big surges in demand and large queues form, those queues are generally confined to some of the parking aisles of the warehouse store parking lot," the appeal noted. "When a Costco fueling facility is located on a site separated from the warehouse store property, there is a reasonable likelihood that the trip characteristics of the patrons of the separated site will be different from those of facilities co-located on the warehouse property."
Petitioners further claimed that the traffic report prepared for the city was not created from an objective source and have called for additional review from an independent source.
Specifically, the petitioners said the report's author, Kittleson Associates, has "a long-term arrangement" with Costco where the firm "provides advocacy transportation analyses that cast new Costco projects in the most favorable light plausible."
Appellants have also listed potential health and environmental concerns as additional motivations for their appeal, expressing concerns over emissions from vehicles visiting the gas station.
"For example, emissions associated with travel and idling of 9,500 vehicles per day is of concern to workers and residents in the project area," the appeal reads.
Other items the appeal lists as remaining unresolved related to the project include:
* Complete EIR
* Fiscal Impact Study
* Cumulative Air Quality Study
* Independent study of impact on local businesses
* Hours of operations are extended longer than other local Costcos
* Delivery of fuel schedule
* Queuing capacity for each fueling pump
* Demand (which is based on regional members and not Danville membership)
* Construction emissions of pollutants exceed BAAQMD guidelines
* Wholesale warehouse facility for gasoline was not considered in the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan
City staff have not officially set a date for when the appeal will be heard by the City Council; however, plans to review the case are tentatively scheduled for February.