Talking Points for Whole Foods Project

Dear San Francisco Board of Supervisors,

I object to the Planning Department’s “common sense” CEQA exemption determination for a proposed Whole Foods Market at 2675 Geary Blvd, and ask that you uphold the appeal and direct Planning staff to prepare an initial study of the project’s potentially significant environmental impacts in accordance with CEQA, and mitigate any impacts the study might identify.

  • A project only qualifies for the ‘common sense’ exemption from CEQA if it can be seen “with certainty” that there is “no possibility” of a significant impact. That finding cannot be made here.
  • Amazon/Whole Foods are not ‘neighborhood’ grocery stores. This store in particular will draw people from multiple areas of the City at all hours of the day. And, in addition to regular in store customers and delivery trucks, it will also draw customers seeking grocery delivery and pickup that will draw additional daily vehicles.
  • The project is an ‘air pollution exposure zone’ (APEZ), meaning the people living nearby currently face an elevated risk of cancer from inhaling diesel exhaust from the truck deliveries servicing the existing Target, etc. At-risk children at the adjacent Mt. St. Joseph Elizabeth Epiphany Center and the Raoul Wallenberg Traditional High School, currently experience an elevated cancer risk from exposure to air pollutant emissions – it will only get worse with the Whole Foods.
  • Amazon/Whole Foods cynically calculates the project’s contribution to that cancer risk based on “net new truck trips,” assuming that the Best Buy (closed for 3 years) is still operating, so that the Project’s contribution is relatively small.
  • An independent air quality expert firm Environmental Permitting Services did a health risk assessment and found significant impacts relating to the proposed Amazon/Whole Foods.
  • The City Center falls within the City’s Formula Retail Ordinance, designed to limit the number of national chain stores in an effort to protect San Francisco’s many small, locally owned businesses. There are 496 Amazon Whole Foods stores nationwide. Is San Francisco going to both grant this national store a Conditional Use Authorization to permit a Formula Retail and, at the same time, allow them to be exempt from any environmental analysis and mitigation?
  • Amazon is the most valuable public company in the world, run by the richest man in the world, CEO Jeff Bezos, who really makes his money by lowering work standards, not offering healthcare and retirement to his workers. This gives his company an advantage over responsible grocers.
  • Protecting workers is of the essence, particularly during this coronavirus pandemic. Amazon and Whole Foods have proven that they can’t keep their workers safe during the pandemic. They have been criticized for the outbreaks of coronavirus in their workplaces. We can’t afford to have an employer who refuses to care about their workers’ safety. A Progressive city like San Francisco should NOT let this happen.
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