San Jose resident sues city, developer over hotel plans
This digital rendering shows what a 214-room hotel planned for the area just south of Topgolf in the Alviso area of San Jose could look like when completed. The San Jose City Council approved the plans Aug. 9, 2022. Image courtesy of Corbel Architects.

An Alviso man is suing San Jose over its approval of a developer’s plans to build a hotel in the neighborhood.

An attorney for resident Mark Espinoza—who has been part of multiple lawsuits pushing back against development in the North San Jose community—filed a lawsuit against the city and Terra Development Partners in Santa Clara County Superior Court last week.

The suit claims the city “abused its discretion” by approving the 214-room hotel without preparing a full environmental impact report for the project. The hotel is planned for a roughly 6-acre site immediately south of Topgolf, which opened in 2021 and was also developed by Terra.

The site is north of Highway 237 and bounded by the Guadalupe River to the west and commercial buildings to the east, with an elementary school nearby.

Following approval of the project earlier this year by the city’s planning director, Espinoza appealed the decision to the City Council in August, demanding a full environmental report be completed.

Councilmembers shot down his appeal, saying the city’s environmental review for the project showing impacts from the project could be reduced is adequate under state law.

“They’re using old, outdated information,” Espinoza told San José Spotlight, noting he’s hopeful a judge will review the evidence in the case and force the city to complete a full environmental impact report. “They may have to make it smaller, they may have to make other mitigating measures, to lessen the impact on the community.”

The lawsuit says the five-story, 112,000-square-foot hotel with an accompanying four-story parking garage is likely to have several significant environmental impacts related to air quality, hazardous materials and land use planning.

San Jose City Attorney Nora Frimann did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trang Tu-Nguyen, a project manager for the hotel development, said the developer is aware of the lawsuit and evaluating options.

“It’s another hiccup to work through, but I don’t have any answers for you as to what direction we’ll take,” Tu-Nguyen told San José Spotlight.

The hotel is part of a larger Alviso development known as The [email protected], which includes the multi-story Topgolf business and plans for other retail and commercial space. Other major office and commercial developments already exist nearby off North First Street.

Espinoza also sued Terra and the city in an attempt to stop Topgolf, but later settled out of court. He also plans to sue San Jose over its approval of a massive new warehouse headquarters proposed by nonprofit food bank Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, which would be next to the hotel site.

Espinoza said his goal in the current suit is to force a more thorough study of the project’s impacts, not a settlement. But he acknowledged the possibility the developer may try to settle out of court.

“We’ll see what they have to say,” he said.

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

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