The letter to Arthur Blank, the CEO of Home Depot, was short and direct. “It would save us all a lot of time and energy is you would simply drop your plans to enter the Santa Cruz market”. The 18 year old citizen group SCAN (Santa Cruz Action Network), warned Home Depot in their letter that “we see (the Depot) as a direct threat to the networks of mutual economic support that we have been developing for decades”. SCAN’s letter goes on to characterize the Home Depot track record as “burying the competition wherever you go and fighting union organizing by store workers. In your predatory pursuit of profit, your primary motive is clearly not to be of benefit to our community or the rest of humanity”. Not exactly a Welcome Wagon for Home Depot! According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Home Depot wants to build a 130,428 square foot store at the north end of 41st avenue in Soquel, and the company has filed a development permit application for 13.5 acres of land. The newspaper says that Santa Cruz has had an “anti-chain store sentiment that often surfaces…” and that the location Home Depot has chosen is “already a maze of bumper-to-bumper” traffic. To build its monolithic dead piece of architectural graffiti, Home Depot will have to tear down 16 homes and wipe out several businesses that now exist on the site. Of the five county supervisors who will review the megastore plans, several have expressed concerns over the scale of the proposal. “It’s not something I would be happy to see,” one supervisor told the Santa Cruz Sentinel. “I think it would be too big for the area.” Another supervisor said the issues are familiar: “It’s the noise, it’s lights, it’s deliveries at what times, it’s what is the building itself going to look like, it’s landscaping…How is it going to respect the surrounding neighbors?” Home Depot continues to insist that its stores do not hurt existing businesses. Depot spokesman Amy Friend believes “after we open our stores nearby retailers are pleased with the extra customers that we will bring to an area”. Some merchants are so pleased, that they decide to go out of business altogether. Home Depot admits that the land they want currently allows both commercial and residential uses, yet they continue to propose a scale to the store that is decidely anti-neighborhood. In their “statement of proposed operations” to the city, Home Depot admits that its store will attract two or three lumber truck deliveries per day, and another 12 to 15 “light duty or semi trucks” on a typical day. That comes to roughly 6,570 truck deliveries a year for the neighbors to savor. Maybe the residents could learn to play license plate games to make the congestion more tolerable.
In their letter to Home Depot, SCAN concludes: “We are confident that community opposition will result in a denial of your proposal. Should you pursue another site within Santa Cruz County, we will again mobilize opposition”. To offer help or support to SCAN, contact them by calling 831-458-9425. To share your thoughts with Home Depot on flattening 16 homes to build a Home Depot, go to their website and email the Mr. Blank. Tell him to pull the plug on his Santa Cruz project. Tell Home Depot they should be helping to build homes — not tear them down. For more about Home Depot’s warm reception in California, see the newsflash article below about Home Depot’s spending habits in San Francisco.