An Alameda County Superior Court judge last Friday ruled against the petitioners suing the city of Pleasanton for a second time over environmental approvals for the proposed Costco and overarching Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone, potentially ending the lawsuit and clearing the way for the project to move forward -- though an appeal period is still in play.
The lawsuit filed in March by the Pleasanton Citizens for Responsible Growth, a group spearheaded by former city councilman Matt Sullivan, challenged the adequacy of the city's second round of environmental review that occurred after a settlement in PCRG's prior lawsuit in 2018 and that the City Council approved in February in the hopes of advancing the project.
At issue in the hearing last week was whether the city adequately considered the cumulative air quality and traffic impacts on the JDEDZ caused by three proposed or pending projects in neighboring Dublin: the IKEA store, Kaiser Permanente medical campus and At Dublin, according to Pleasanton city attorney Dan Sodergren.
"At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge (Frank) Roesch ruled in the city's favor and denied the petition for writ of mandate. Judge Roesch found that there is substantial evidence to support the analysis contained in the Recirculated Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report for the (JDEDZ)," Sodergren told the Weekly.
The ruling, which is still subject to a final order by Roesch to follow soon, effectively concludes the lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court, although the petitioners would have up to 60 days to appeal the decision to the state's Court of Appeal, according to Sodergren.
"While we are disappointed with the preliminary ruling, we're still awaiting a final judgment from the court and will assess next steps once we receive it," Sullivan told the Weekly on Monday afternoon.
Under consideration since 2014, the JDEDZ is the local regulatory framework laying out how redevelopment could occur for a new Costco Wholesale store with gas station, two hotels and other projects at prominent property just south of the I-680 and I-580 interchange. The project was previously paused by a ballot measure in 2016 and the prior PCRG lawsuit, in addition to this second lawsuit by the citizen group.
The timeline of the proposed Costco project and design review application, as well as the already approved plans from a hotel developer to build two hotels with 231 rooms in the JDEDZ area, remain unclear.
"There is a 60-day appeal period that has to expire before we can move forward with anything of significance related to the JDEDZ. There is no additional comment from the city," city spokeswoman Cindy Chin told the Weekly.