Lawsuit filed against San Jose over a Whole Foods store in planned urban village development

Lawsuit filed against San Jose over a Whole Foods store in planned urban village development
Rendering Credit: Kenneth Rodrigues & Partners
By Wesley Severson - Published on July 29, 2022.

The city of San Jose is getting sued over a proposed Whole Foods Market on the west side. A group has just filed a suit in response to the El Paseo de Saratoga shopping center redevelopment project, which was approved by the City Council last month, as reported by Hoodline. The redevelopment project would add almost 1,000 new housing units to the already existing shopping center at the corner of Saratoga Avenue and Lawrence Expressway. 

The plan is to turn the area into an urban village-type development. The shopping center currently features an REI outdoor sports store, an AMC movie theater, and an Ulta beauty supply store. These businesses will stay in the development, but there will also be an added Whole Foods store that will take up 40,000 square feet and serve as the shopping center’s anchor store.

The group Citizens for Inclusive Development filed a lawsuit over the market with the Santa Clara County Superior Court on July 22nd. According to the Mercury News, the group claims that the city never specifically stated in the environmental reports that a Whole Foods would be a part of the project. According to the group, the reports only stated that the space would be for generic commercial use and never accounted for the extra traffic, emissions, and other impacts that the popular Whole Foods chain would bring to the area.

According to lawsuit documents obtained by the Mercury News, “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 group claims that by approving the project, the city of San Jose is in direct violation of the California Environmental Quality Act.

So far, the city has decided not to make a comment on the lawsuit, but the developer of the project, Sand Hill Property Co., issued a statement to the Mercury News saying, “This 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.” No timelines for construction had been laid out for the project, and it remains unclear how much a delay the lawsuit could bring.