Costco expansion suit goes to court

Residents suing Redwood City and Costco over the wholesaler’s expansion plans had their day in court Wednesday, but could wait up to three months for a decision.

Attorneys representing Surlene and George Grant as well as James Rockwood, neighbors of Costco’s Middlefield Road store, argued that traffic engineers used faulty data to determine how much traffic the expansion and gas station would cause.

Costco’s expansion plan — which includes building a new 160,000-square-foot warehouse and adding 12 gas pumps — was approved by theRedwood City Planning Commission last summer.

Judge Marie Weiner must decide whether the city’s traffic analysis was enough to satisfy the California Environmental Quality Act guidelines.

“There is substantial evidence supporting the way the city did its traffic analysis,” said attorney Andrew Faber, representing Redwood City.

For the Grants, who have been fighting Costco’s plans to add gas pumps since the idea was first proposed, Wednesday’s hearing was a long time coming.

“We’re not against the expansion; we’re against the gas station,” George Grant said.

An appeal by residents of the commission’s approval was rejected by the City Council last fall. Rockwood filed suit against the city and Costco on Sept. 13. The Grants joined the complaint in December, attorney Roger Kubein said.

Costco has previously added gas pumps at its Airport Boulevard and El Camino Real stores in South San Francisco, but used traffic datafrom stores in Colorado and elsewhere to conclude that the Redwood City pumps would bring in 60 extra cars during rush hour, said Thomas Saberi, another attorney for the residents.

Kubein added that “the city relies on the assumption that the intersection of Woodside and Middlefield is the only important one” when it comes to potential traffic increases resulting from a bigger store with a gas station.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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