UPDATE: Silicon Valley food bank HQ cleared to move forward
This digital rendering shows what the planned Second Harvest of Silicon Valley headquarters facility in Alviso could look like when completed. Image courtesy of Second Harvest of Silicon Valley.

    Second Harvest of Silicon Valley is proceeding with plans for its new headquarters in Alviso following a challenge to its environmental footprint.

    On Tuesday, the San Jose City Council denied an appeal of the project brought by Alviso resident Mark Espinoza, who claimed the environmental review for the massive, 250,000 square-foot warehouse was inadequate and out of date.

    The facility is planned to be built on a roughly 10.4-acre site at 4553 and 4653 N. First St., which Second Harvest bought in April for $37.2 million from South Bay Development Company, according to the nonprofit.

    City reports show the location will serve as a food handling facility with 31 loading docks, and will also house operations offices and a volunteer center. It will generate about 888 daily vehicle trips, with 100 of those expected to be diesel trucks, some with refrigeration units.

    District 4 Councilmember David Cohen, who represents the Alviso area, said he supports the project.

    “I think that having a service that will bring community-minded and volunteer-minded people into that area will be good for that community,” Cohen said.

    Although city reports said a health risk assessment was completed for the plans that show there will not be any significant health risks to kids at George Mayne Elementary School across the street from the planned warehouse, Espinoza focused on air quality concerns when speaking to the council.

    He said the Bay Area Air Quality Management District standards used in the assessment are roughly 12 years old and out of date.

    “Because of that, this should not move forward,” Espinoza said. “The developer should go back and generate an (environmental impact report) so we can get some real data on real impacts that are affecting the community.”

    He said he is worried about the cumulative effect of lots of development in recent years, and the already long-standing dump, wastewater treatment facility and energy plant nearby.

    The site was at one time envisioned as part of a larger 152-acre Cisco Systems development. Those plans included up to 2.3 million square feet of office, manufacturing and research and development space.

    The city previously evaluated the environmental impacts for the Cisco development in 2000 and approved them. Since then, a total of 1.8 million square feet of offices, warehouses and a hotel have been constructed on the 152-acre parcel, according to city reports.

    City officials say the Second Harvest project will not have any new or more significant effects that haven’t already been considered.

    The city also noted in staff reports the food bank center would create less vehicle trips than the prior Cisco plans.

    Espinoza told San José Spotlight previously he is prepared to sue the city and Second Harvest if his appeal were to be denied. He has previously sued San Jose and a developer in an attempt to halt the Topgolf facility in Alviso from being built, but later settled out of court. He also recently appealed the city’s environmental review of a 214-room hotel in Alviso, also on North First Street, but the council denied his appeal on Aug. 11.

    Espinoza said he is preparing to sue the city and developer for that project, as well.

    He said organizations build in Alviso because the community is largely working class and can’t easily fight the developments.

    “This is another slap in the face to poor Hispanic people. The city is saying, ‘You have no value. Your life has no value.’ It generates money for the city, but they will never put that into Alviso,” he said.

    Second Harvest officials are standing by plans for the food bank’s new headquarters.

    “The CEQA documentation and determination are thorough, exhaustive, and complete,” CEO Leslie Bacho said. “Our new home enables us to continue our 30-year partnership with the Alviso community and feed 450,000 people in the region every month who are struggling with food insecurity.”

    The warehouse could be complete by 2024, according to Diane Hayward, spokesperson for Second Harvest.

    Contact Joseph Geha at [email protected] or @josephgeha16 on Twitter.

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