The British parent of the newly opened Fresh & Easy chain could be in a little trouble over its massive 820,400-square-foot distribution facility near Riverside not being in compliance with state environmental regulations. Superior Court Judge Thomas Cahraman ruled that the facility should have been subjected to a review under the California Environmental Quality Act and that the company should "take all actions necessary to bring the project into compliance with that Act." Tesco said that nothing in the ruling will impact its Fresh & Easy openings, but in a worst-case scenario the place might have to be shut down (that seems pretty unlikely). From Reuters:
Last year, Fresh & Easy received an exemption from the environmental review from the authority charged with developing the land on which the distribution center is located, according to court papers. That move was challenged in court by Health First, a group of area residents who say they are concerned about land use and environmental quality issues. "The public agency in this case did not proceed in a manner required by law, because it issued a notice of exemption for a project that is not exempt," Cahraman wrote in his decision.
As it happens, I just toured the Riverside facility this morning and let me say that this is no typical distribution center. It's not only where they make all the prepared foods that are shipped to the stores, but where virtually all other products are delivered. Merchandise is then divvied up according to store and shipped out to the individual locations. That basically eliminates having a whole bunch of delivery trucks going directly to the store. So the distribution center is really at the heart of the operation. Here's this morning's Press-Enterprise story.