Home Depot is trying to break up some big rocks in Oakland, CA. The company wants to build a mall on the site of the Leona Quarry, and the project has run into a stonewall of opposition for local residents. The developer, Gallagher properties, has applied to build a 22 acre retail outlet that includes a Home Depot and a supermarket.But opponents charge that the land in question is a designated scenic corridor, and as one are businessman said: “22 acres of asphalt is hardly scenic”. An aide to City Councilmember Nate Miley said that the fundamental issues will be traffic and economic impact, and whether the development will end up closing down other commercial property. Home Depot, meanwhile, has been actively trying to lobby the community with a PR campaign. In late March the company sent out a mailing to residents saying that people in Oakland “have asked for a Home Depot closer to home.” Depot promises they will “help bring local shopping and sales tax revenue back to Oakland”. The letter tells residents “we need your help to bring the Home Depot to Oakland”, and asks them to fill out a postcard that urges the Oakland City Council to approve the Home Depot project at Leona Quarry. Home Depot claims that 70% of general merchandise purchases by Oakland residents are made outside of the city, and that the store will create 150 to 200 new jobs. The flier does not mention how many jobs the project will destroy at other businesses, or how much will be lost in sales taxes from closed stores. The plan requires that the City Council voted to amend the City’s General Plan to change the lower portion of the quarry property from residential to regional commercial. The developer admits that the property is located in a seismically active region, in an area known to contain mineral deposits, the extractin of which is of prime importance to meeting future needs of minerals in the surrounding area. Recent landslides have occurred in the quarry area, and the property has single family homes to the north, east and south of the site. Would someone have to have rocks in his head to willfully pick a site like this for a Home Depot? City staff have recommended to the Council that an economic impact analysis of the proposed project “that evaluates the short and long term financial costs and benefits to the City” should be conducted. Such a study could provide opponents with plenty of stones to throw at the proposal.
If you think this project has a rocky future, why not call Home Depot and let them know what you think of their proposal. Home Depot is looking for comments, by calling Michelle Banks-Ordone or Eugent Kim at 510-251-7292. Tell them “sprawl-busters” sent you. Urge Home Depot to pull out of the Leona Quarry development before the landslide of public opposition buries it.