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Is the Westgate West Costco worth the chaos?

Companies+are+constantly+innovating+new+environmentally-friendly+products%2C+which+distracts+people+from+the+actual+problem+of+climate+change.
Vidushi Upadhyay
Companies are constantly innovating new environmentally-friendly products, which distracts people from the actual problem of climate change.

The plan for a Costco to be built at the Westgate West shopping center has been pending for over a year, and its approval or denial by the city of San Jose draws closer, a decision that could affect the way of life of many of the surrounding communities. If the project proposal is approved and construction starts on the new center, many aspects of life — from daily commutes to the survival of local businesses — will be negatively influenced for a multitude of people. City council members should reject this plan before it has the opportunity to create unnecessary chaos within  the community.

These concerns have spurred community members to take action to stop the plan from being passed. Driving through the neighborhood behind Westgate West, one can see dozens of houses sporting yard signs protesting the Costco. Many of the signs in the neighborhood have been created and distributed by Save West Valley!, the organization that has been the driving force behind protests against the store’s construction.

“In a nutshell, Save West Valley! gives a voice to the residents of West Valley,” founder Marc Pawliger said. “Costco and other developers have expert representation, but residents of the community have none.”

Pawliger and his co-founder Connie Tietze believe that the Costco will make an irreversible impact on West Valley, and that this project will be the first domino to fall on a future of an industrialization of West Valley that puts businesses before the community.

If this Costco is built, the intense customer base will create severe traffic that will stall commute routines and pose a genuine danger to pedestrians in the area.  According to plans submitted to the City of San Jose, Costco expects more than 6,500 customers daily, which translates to a significant increase in drivers crossing the intersection of Prospect and Lawrence. The already busy intersection will become crowded and impassable for everyone. Opening hours will further exacerbate congestion issues, as the Costco will open at 9 a.m., on weekdays and weekends, crowding the streets with shoppers during peak commute time.  The closing time, 8 p.m. on weekdays , and 7 p.m. on weekends, will cause a steady stream of traffic throughout the entire day.

“I feel very concerned about safety with such a big box store going in such a small footprint,” said Sara Ludwig, a member of Save West Valley! and mother of four kids, two of whom go to Prospect High School. “I’m constantly around the traffic in this area as it is now and I can’t imagine adding thousands of cars.”

The residential neighborhoods behind the Costco will likely receive many Costco shoppers and daily commuters searching for alternative routes in order to escape from the parking overflow and excessive traffic. An influx of cars parked on previously calm streets will force residents to adapt. In addition, the Costco plans to restock the warehouse from 2 a.m to 7 p.m, with the majority of it happening in the early morning hours. This raises many noise concerns for residents with the noisy nature of supply restock that may keep residents up during the night.

“Traffic will inherently build up not only on Prospect, but on Saratoga and more,” Tietze said. “The issue there is that it will start coming down and filtering through the neighborhood. We have a highschool right across the street and an elementary school that’s in the neighborhood right behind the Costco, and the concern is that on top of the layers of traffic, the Costco employees are going to be parking in the neighborhood as well.”

The Prospect and Lawrence intersection is directly next to Prospect High School, so its students will also be heavily affected by the new traffic. Hundreds of students walk and bike home from school or walk up Prospect to meet their rides each day. After-school traffic will directly compete with the Costco traffic during prime shopping times which will increase the likelihood of accidents and will severely endanger pedestrians, including local high school students.

“There will be a lot more cars and traffic, and I don’t think many people will know how that’ll function in the beginning,” Prospect sophomore Aarna Sahu said. “I think it would be very dangerous for freshmen as well.”

The construction plan largely ignores the community surrounding it, but maintains a facade of uplifting the nearby neighborhoods and residents. Costco representatives claim the plan has been adapted to help the surrounding communities by placing a portion of parking on the roof to save space. However, the proposed Costco plan for Westgate West has a stark contrast to nearby Costcos. The proposed Westgate West Costco will shut down the Smart & Final and Good Will to create an overall site that is 35% smaller than the nearby Costco Sunnyvale, with a 20,000 square-foot larger warehouse, leaving minimal room left for parking. The Costco site will be cramped and the intense traffic coupled with Costco parking overflow will overwhelm the entire shopping center, impeding the business of the surrounding stores.

“Almost 400 of Costco’s parking spaces will be on the roof,” Tietze said. “The customers are not going to go up to park, they are going to take the surface parking first. This is going to impact access for people that want to go to local businesses as well.”

Although the Costco customer base may bring some new business to surrounding stores like Super Duper Burger and Trader Joe’s, the intense traffic coupled with the lack of parking may also turn away many loyal customers of other stores at Westgate West. As a result, small businesses in the shopping center and across the street may face declining clientele if people decide that it is not worth it to navigate the chaotic Costco traffic to visit nearby stores.

“A lot of the time I choose to go to the stores at Westgate because of convenience,” history teacher Nhat Nguyen said. “If I don’t have enough time to navigate the traffic, I would rather not go there.”

The proposed Costco threatens a negative shift in the way of life for the nearby communities. Everything from the stores at Westgate West to the adjacent streets, will all be strongly affected if a Costco is built. In order to prevent this danger, the community must raise their voice by joining protests, signing petitions and speaking out against the Costco plan before it gets approved.

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About the Contributors
Alex Cotterel, Staffer
(they/them) Alex is a sophomore and a first year staffer. Their hobbies include biking, painting, and reading novels. In their free time they like to listen to music and podcasts, and binge watch whatever their latest tv show obsession is.
Vidushi Upadhyay, Staffer
(she/her) Vidushi loves being a part of the Epic and is excited to write movie reviews this year! She's a dedicated swimmer and loves dancing for the school team. In her free time, she obsesses over Formula One and her favorite TV show at the time.

Comments (10)

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  • N

    NORMAJan 19, 2024 at 2:57 pm

    PUT IT UP AROUN D DEANZA

    Reply
  • A

    AndrewJan 18, 2024 at 3:09 pm

    I live near Sunnyvale Costco. I see everyday traffic and chaos and I am used to it. But I also enjoy the convenience of it nearby. I can have a quick stop to pick up some last-minute items. I can go just 3 minutes before closing to fill my car with no lines. You lose some you win some. To me, this Westgate site will ease congestion in Sunnyvale. I agree with all the concerns residents have. Remember we live in a high-cost dense city where land is precious, perhaps we need to learn to compromise.

    Reply
  • L

    LawrenceJan 17, 2024 at 10:04 pm

    This one sided, highly opinionated article leaves out a lot, including any discussion of alternatives or other points of view.

    Westgate West is a shopping center. At one time all the buildings were full of businesses with all the attendant traffic, deliveries, parking issues, etc. Most of these businesses are now gone or relocated leaving half the center boarded up and derelict. Is anyone else queuing up to open a business there?

    Now a responsible corporation wants to develop the site which will result in a return of traffic, parking, and delivery trucks. Is this a perfect solution? Probably not, but then few if any things humans are involved in are.

    If not Costco, what then?

    The land owners have a right to lawfully use, sell, or develop the land. Should it be left to continue crumbling and decaying? What are the viable alternatives? Housing? High rise condos? Small businesses? A mix of all of these? There is already a large park between Graves and Doyle, I doubt San Jose has any desire to purchase the land and build an extension to Saratoga Creek Park. I for one would rather have a Costco than a six story high rise residential building.

    I have two suggestions:

    1. If you feel the only answer to Costco is no, then propose viable alternatives. Otherwise you may be left with something worse.

    2. Consider things that can be done to mitigate your more pressing concerns. For example; I was concerned that allowing access to Costco using the driveway at the end of Graves would negatively impact parking and access to the dog park. I voiced my concerns to Costco, city planning, and Nextdoor. I doubt I was the only one with this concern, but bottom line, the driveway will now be closed off from Costco access.

    My next goal: I live in the neighborhood behind WW. There are already too many vehicles speeding up and down Graves, Cordelia, Happy Valley, Brenton, Teresita, etc. How they solved this problem in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood was to install speed humps. Easy to pass over at 20 mph, not so easy at 30 or greater. I for one would like to see speed humps installed on all the thru streets in the neighborhood between Lawrence, Saratoga, Graves, and Doyle. If it even saves one one life it’s well worth it.

    Reply
  • T

    TerryJan 17, 2024 at 6:55 pm

    Progress is one thing but a well planned community project is another. This is nothing but a sales tax grab for San Jose, not giving a damn about the 3 other communities it disturbs. Plus with El Paseo project(again most of it in San Jose) the traffic congestion will be in an all time high. Saratoga Ave is having trouble handling the flow of traffic coming off 85 going to Lawrence Expressway, with no chance to enhance Saratoga Ave to handle the already over burdened road presently. Yeah, that’s progress! That poor planning…..

    Reply
  • V

    VinuJan 17, 2024 at 1:11 pm

    So where are you students learning this stuff ??? stalling development and progress ??
    Dont you want to consider the positive effects of having a Costco close to our homes ?
    You are complaining of traffic ? What about big cities like NY, LA and other large cities around the world. Do they also see things like you do ?

    Reply
  • M

    MaryJan 12, 2024 at 4:41 am

    This is not progress. This is the addition
    of unnecessary chaos and significant additional danger and disruption to the area, all in the name of increasing both Costco’s bottom line and San Jose’s sales tax coffers.

    The footprint of this property and the existing infrastructure (which will not be enhanced) are simply unsuitable and inadequate to support a store of this size, with projected 6,500 daily customers.

    It also endangers the lives of the Prospect High School students, who cross this already treacherous intersection 2-4 times every school day. Let’s add another 6,500 cars daily to this already gridlocked intersection, and see how many 14-18 year old students fall victim to this “progress” the first year. Great idea!

    There are numerous other Costcos that are nearby and accessible.

    Bill, if the drive to an existing Costco is too far for you, move.

    Reply
  • C

    Chris VasquezJan 11, 2024 at 11:00 pm

    Good article that highlights the negative impact on the surrounding neighborhoods. Plenty of Costcos nearby with more space for parking.

    Reply
  • B

    BillOct 11, 2023 at 8:40 am

    It’s called progress get with the program. Move if you don’t like it. So whole foods is ok across the street?

    Reply
    • C

      CurtisJan 16, 2024 at 9:42 am

      Whole foods does not generate the massive amount of trips that Costco big box will generate. Estimates are traffic will increase by 18 times (18x) that Costco will generate !!! Imagine yourself living in the surrounding area.

      Reply
    • L

      LeanneJan 17, 2024 at 8:22 pm

      Progress usually implies all positive. But, for some, “progress” can also lead to negative consequences. Perhaps “change” is more appropriate here.

      Reply