A Sprawl-Busters correspondent in Mountain View, California reports that Home Depot’s plans to open a store in Mountain View came to a sudden halt. “On July 31, 2001 the matter was set to go the City Council for a public hearing and a final vote. In the weeks leading up to the hearing date opponents of the Home Depot project mobilized to assure that the City Council had all the facts. An economic report comparing City revenue from the Home Depot use was compared to a hotel use, with the hotel model showing a greater revenue stream for the City. Several neighbors circulated petitions with an overwhelming “No”??? to the Home Depot project. Letters, faxes, telephone calls and e-mails poured into City offices. Local press picked up the story and kept people up to date. Many people wanted to speak at the hearing on the 31st and arranged for babysitters and changed plans to make sure they were ready to voice their opposition to Home Depot’s Big Box. A few scant hours before the hearing Home Depot abruptly pulled their application, throwing the entire effort into turmoil. Was it a victory or a delay? What did it mean? By the time the City Council meeting started there were many angry neighbors. As the meeting started it was clear that several members of the City Council were not happy with the tactic that Home Depot used. The City had spent taxpayer dollars on reports, plans, studies and staff time. Now, there was nothing to vote on. Home Depot indicated it wasn’t ready to move forward and that it was interested in making sure they got it right before submitting their plans. They said they’d be back.
It’s often no problem for a developer to suddenly withdraw a plan or ask for a continuance with little or no notice to the public. Officials usually go along with this procedure — but would never allow neighbors the same courtesy. Imagine in Mountain View if the residents had said they didn’t have enough time to review the economic impact statement or the traffic study? These delays just indicate to what degree land use hearings are tailored to the needs of the developer, and against the citizens. Now all those residents who came ready to fight Home Depot will have to come back another time, at the developer’s convenience. But they will be back. For more information on the Mountain View Vs. Home Depot View battle, contact Kay Mascoli at [email protected]