On January 20, 2007, Sprawl-Busters updated a story from the Los Angeles neighborhood of Sunland-Tujunga, where residents have been battling Home Depot since the fall of 2004. Neighbors boxed the Home Depot plan into a former Kmart store, defeating a plan to tear down the store and build a new Home Depot. As a result, Home Depot has to fit inside the 93,000 s.f. Kmart — a size smaller than the retailer wanted. There are 9 Home Depots already within a 30 minute drive of this location, but the “home improvement” giant is trying to hammer its way into this community. Two days ago, the North Valley Area Planning Commission voted 3-2 to allow Home Depot’s building permits to be issued. But the lid is not sealed on this case. We noted six months ago that neighbors had a strong ally in their local City Councilwoman, Wendy Greuel, who was quoted at the time as saying, “I have been opposed to this proposed Home Depot site since I first learned about it in October 2004.” Greuel told the Associated Press on Friday that she was going to ask the City Council to reconsider the decision of the Planning Commission. The members of that Commission are appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “We believe that Home Depot did not follow the rules by not looking at environmental issues, parking, traffic and operational hours — all the things that are critical for a neighborhood to control their quality of life,” said Greuel, whose district includes Sunland-Tujunga. On their website, the “No Home Depot In Sunland-Tujunga” campaign ran a banner headline: “Home Depot Stopped Again!” The group explained, “What an incredible 24 hours it has been! On Thursday night Planning Commission approves Home Depot’s Appeal in a 3-2 vote! 11 hours later, Councilmember Greuel invokes Charter Section 245 and asserts jurisdiction over the case! The case will now go before the full Los Angeles City Council. We are back in the fight!” According to the group, the move by Councilwoman Greuel to invoke Charter Section 245 is rare. “So rare, that it may occur only once, if ever, in the entire career of an elected Council Member. To have Wendy Greuel do this for us is an incredible demonstration of support for this community. We are absolutely blown away that she is doing this. We hope everyone will send her an email with their thanks. Bringing this matter before the entire LA City Council is a historic event, and historically, when a Council Member does this, they usually get what they ask for. No guarantees, but we are very encouraged. She is doing this not only because of the merits of our case, but because of the support she has seen for our cause, and especially the support she witnessed at last night’s Hearing. We are an amazing community, and we have a Council Member that we can truly believe in, especially after what she did today.”
The Councilor’s efforts could force Home Depot to go back and do more studies before going into the former Kmart building. Home Depot complained that the company has already dumped $2 million into the site plan review process in this case. According to the AP, this week’s public hearing was packed with Home Depot opponents. Home Depot has spent 21/2 years trying to win city approval for its project. This case is very similar to the Coconut Grove battle in Miami, Florida, where neighbors forced Home Depot to abandon plans to construct a new building, and instead forced them into a former Kmart building. To express your support for Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, send her an email for standing up to Home Depot, at [email protected] For earlier stories, search by Sunland, and Miami. For more background on the Sunland-Tujunga battle, go to www.no2homedepot.com.