Bay Area residents sue city over a Whole Foods proposal

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Photo of Madeline Wells

A Whole Foods market in San Francisco, Calif., on Feb. 15, 2022.Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

A group of San Jose residents has filed a lawsuit against the city over a shopping center redevelopment project, reported the Mercury News.

The San Jose City Council recently approved a project to expand the El Paseo de Saratoga shopping center by adding nearly 1,000 housing units (150 of them affordable) and more than 165,000 square feet of commercial space. Now, a group of residents called Citizens for Inclusive Development are alleging the city is in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act.

This argument stems from the plan to build a new Whole Foods at the shopping center, which the Citizens for Inclusive Development claim was never disclosed in environmental reports. The lawsuit alleges that increased traffic and emissions could arise from this Whole Foods. 

“At least one organization submitted expert opinion documenting that the air quality and public health impacts from a Whole Foods grocery store will far exceed the impacts disclosed and evaluated in the draft and final (Environmental Impact Report), which assumed only generic, non-grocery commercial uses,” the lawsuit said, as reported by the Mercury News. 

In response, the developer, Sand Hill Property Co., told the Mercury News in a statement that the lawsuit “is an unfortunate attempt to block much-needed housing in the city and our region despite the fact that this project was a Signature Project, had significant community engagement and received unanimous City Council approval.”

To San Franciscans, this whole scenario may sound a little familiar. A proposed Whole Foods at the City Center shopping mall has been delayed for years after neighbors and the United Food & Commercial Workers Union requested an environmental review.

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