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City Council to take up Costco gas appeal
January 12, 2013, 05:00 AM Daily Journal Staff Report

The Redwood City Council will hear an appeal of the permit for new gas stations at the Costco on Middlefield Road — a decision that made neither a nearby business nor the company happy.

Both a business owner and Costco itself appealed the Planning Commission approval which amended the request for 20 new pumping stations to 16. Andy Saberi, of Andy’s BP, Inc. and Fifth Avenue Enterprises, the parent company of station Gas & Shop on Woodside Road, wants the council to keep the station number at the current 12 while Costco Wholesale Corporation is asking it allow the originally requested 20.

Saberi’s appeal objects to the Planning Commission’s decision based on air and traffic analysis and the lack of a condition prohibiting Costco from selling gasoline to the public below cost.

Redwood City staff are recommending the City Council deny Saberi’s appeal and grant that of Costco, according to the staff report which concludes that the 20-pump project would not add or increase the existing impacts and that the Planning Commission’s discussion of them — particularly traffic concerns — was based on anecdotes rather than substantial evidence.

The existing traffic and potential for more was a key point in the Planning Commission’s debate before it voted 6-1 in favor of the 16-pump amendment with Commissioner Randy Tabing dissenting.

Costco’s original plan, which it hopes the City Council restores, calls for adding the new pumps on two additional islands and reconfigure parking from 745 to 747 spaces by converting some oversized stalls at the 2300 Middlefield Road location. The business said the change will decrease lines and idling times while improving traffic and the customer experience.

The adopted compromise size is what the company suggested in spring 2005 when it proposed a plan to demolish the existing warehouse to build a larger store, tire sales/installation center and parking lot. In June 2007, after environmental impact reports on two possibilities identified significant although mitigated impacts, the Planning Commission certified the 16-pump option. However, the city’s zoning administrator approved the second smaller option with 12 pumps.

The Redwood Village Neighborhood Association, which appealed the decision, questioned the city’s review process, the environmental process and the city’s sense of social justice. The group claimed the environmental impact report underestimated the number of trips the store would generate, bringing with it pollution, noise and an increase of cars cutting through their residential community.

However, that August, the City Council upheld the plan and the 160,000-square-foot store and 12-pump station opened in 2009. A court also favored the city when the opponents challenged the adequacy of the EIR in court.

The Redwood City Council meets 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14 at City Hall, 1017 Middlefield Road, Redwood City.

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