Two environmental groups and a citizens' coalition called "Safe Streets Pleasanton" have asked the Alameda County Superior Court to halt a series of multi-million-dollar development projects on Pleasanton's northeast side until a revised Environmental Impact Report can be prepared, certified and approved.
At issue is an EIR certified Feb. 24 in a 3-2 vote by the City Council that in effect gave the go-ahead for the development of Staples Ranch, an unincorporated 124-acre parcel currently owned by Alameda County at the southwest corner of I-580 and El Charro Road. Last month, after several years of public hearings, the council agreed to develop the land in concert with an agreement with the county and at the same time to allow the extension of Stoneridge Drive through Staples to connect to El Charro and Livermore.
In their suit, the San Francisco-based Center for Biological Diversity and Alameda Creek Alliance joined a local citizens' coalition called "Safe Streets Pleasanton" in arguing that the council's approval of the Stoneridge Drive extension violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because that action was not part of the earlier EIR for the entire site development. They want all development stopped until a new EIR is prepared, circulated and certified that
complies with CEQA.
Before voting to certify the EIR, attorneys both for the city of Pleasanton and Alameda County heard the complaints by Morrison and the two outside organizations and determined that the EIR prepared for Staples was adequate. It will now be up to the court to decide who's right and if the Staples Ranch development can proceed.
City Atty. Michael Roush said that once the lawsuit has been assigned to a Superior Court judge, it's likely there will be a series of case management studies to see what research is needed before a trial date can be set. He said he expects the case to be heart later this year.
In the meantime, plans by the four developers are expected to move forward, with actual construction probably not starting until next year at the earliest. The four projects are:
* Hendrick Automotive Group, which wants to build a new auto mall on its 37-acre portion of Staples, next to the junction of I-580 and El Charro Road, directly across El Charro from a 180-plus store outlet mall that Livermore has approved.
* Stoneridge Creek Pleasanton, a 45-acre senior continuing care community to be developed by Continuing Life Communities (CLC), with up to 800 units for assisted living, skilled nursing and independent living residents.
* Fremont Land, an 11-acre retail development, which would include various shops and also may include a food market, bank and restaurant.
* Sharks Ice Center, a two-story, four rink facility to be built by San Jose Arena Management, a subsidiary of the San Jose Sharks, with the facility to occupy about 10 acres of a 17-acre public park that the Sharks would also develop for the city.
In their lawsuit, Emerson, who lives at 2058 Eilene Dr., and Morrison, who lives at 3575 Chippendale Ct., expressed concern over the impacts the Staples Ranch projects could have "on local biological resources, the health and well-being of nearby neighborhoods and future residents, as well as the quality of life for all Pleasanton residents."
"Mr. Morrison is also concerned by the city's failure to investigate, disclose, analyze and mitigate such impacts pursuant to CEQA's procedural and substantive requirements prior to certifying the Project EIR," the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also argues that the draft EIR the city prepared for the (Staples Ranch) project did not include the extension of Stoneridge Drive, although the City Council later voted to extend the roadway and include it in the overall development plan.
"The project, if completed and approved, may have significant traffic, air quality, noise and other impacts associated with through traffic on Stoneridge Drive and local neighborhoods that are located along Stoneridge Drive that were not described, analyzed or mitigated in the public circulated draft EIR," the lawsuit states.
The groups ask the Superior Court to allow the Staples Ranch project to proceed "if and when the city rescinds the approvals challenged in this action; the city prepares, recirculates and certifies a legally adequate EIR for the project; and the city considers and decides whether the project should be approved based on its revised and recirculated EIR."
The lawsuit was filed by Kelly Franger, an attorney with the law firm of Lippe Gaffney Wagner, with offices in San Francisco and Sacramento.
Safe Streets Pleasanton and Friends of Pleasanton share the same website at http://friendsofpleasanton.org. Friends of Pleasanton is also a citizens' coalition and was active in supporting specific candidates in recent municipal and school district elections. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.