Some Tustin Ranch homeowners are continuing their fight against the approval of a nearby Costco gas station by filing a lawsuit to stop the project approved by the Tustin City Council.

Editors’ Note: This dispatch is part of the Voice of OC Youth Media program, working with student journalists to cover public policy issues across Orange County. If you would like to submit your own student media project related to Orange County civics or if you have any response to this work, contact Digital Editor Sonya Quick at

The group of homeowners, called Protect Tustin Ranch, oppose the gas station. They contend it would have adverse environmental impacts on soil, ground water, and air quality as well as increase traffic and noise, according to the lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court. They contend increased traffic in the residential area will lead to a “logistical nightmare for existing residents.”

City officials did not comment on the pending lawsuit.

The City Council approved the project 4-1 on Oct. 15. Councilmember Barry Cooper was the lone dissenter, saying he was concerned about traffic congestion but thought that another Costco gas station could “revitalize the area.” Another Costco in Tustin has a gas station at 2700 Park Ave.

In response to the decision, Protect Tustin Ranch filed the lawsuit against Tustin, the City Council, and the Planning Commission on Nov. 19. The group says the project needs an environmental impact report. The city found the project to be exempt.

The group also argues in its lawsuit the city failed to respond to public comments objecting to the project.

The gas station is approved for the Costco at 2655 El Camino Real and would include 16 pumps, according to the city.

Residents Charlie Mazza and Anne Lee led the campaign against the new gas station. Costco will not be able to move forward with the project until the lawsuit filed by the homeowners is adjudicated.

The residents opposed to the gas station emphasize the need for more studies to ensure citizens’ safety. Lee said she is most concerned about the children and elders in the area because of emissions from idling cars and added traffic that the gas station would attract.

In the lead up to the council decision, some of the Protect Tustin Ranch supporters handed out flyers in front of a nearby Ralph’s to help inform other Tustin residents of the project.

Lee stated that Protect Tustin Ranch tried to schedule a meeting with the City Council before the panel’s Oct. 15 decision, but was denied because of potential unfair influence.

“That’s crazy,” Lee said in an interview. “(Councilmembers) are supposed to be influenced by us. (They’re) our public servants.”

Added Mazza: “We intend to fight it all the way. I’m not going away soon. The fight has just begun.” 

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