On March 5th, voters in Mountain View, California finally got the Home Depot gorilla off their back. The grassroots citizens group which sent Home Depot packing used the image of a gorilla as its campaign symbol for Home Depot, because the company has described itself as an 800 lb. gorilla. Measure N, which would have allowed Home Depot to build a store at an entranceway to Mountain View (see Newsflash 1/5/2002), was put on the ballot by the corporation, not citizens. According to the No on N committee: “Home Depot originally said it was going to build a Home Depot Expo at the Old Emporium site. The City approved the plans, but Home Depot changed its mind when it got a better deal in East Palo Alto. It was only when Home Depot decided it wanted instead to place a Big Box Retail store on the site, that our elected officials asked Home Depot to provide reasonable safeguards to address design, traffic, safety, and other land-use issues. Consistently, when the Environmental Planning Commission and City Council set deadlines for Home Depot to respond, Home Depot delayed time and again, wasting our tax dollars.” Instead, Home Depot pushed its way onto the ballot, and on March 5th. the residents of Mountain View pushed back — decisively! The final vote was a rout: The Yes votes for the Home Depot were 4436 (35.4%), and the NO votes to stop them were 8084 (64.6%). This is one of the largest margins of victory against Home Depot ever. “We were originally a grassroots group of residents,” the No on N committee explains, “called the “Dale & Sylvan Avenue Neighborhoods for a Landmark/Gateway Quality Project.” Our group has followed the Home Depot project for several years, supporting the City to find uses appropriate for a commercial landmark site that would not greatly diminish the surrounding neighborhoods and the quality of life for the residents.” The group opposed Home Depot because:
* Home Depot’s presence will dramatically increase the amount and type of large truck traffic and noise generated by a big-box home-improvement operation.
* Home Depot’s typical building style is not something we can be proud of for a gateway into our City
* Home Depot stores are unsightly with pallets piled high and large trucks everywhere.
* Home Depot ‘s history of broken promises to the neighbors and City officials in other communities.
* Home Depot’s deceptive tactics and blatant disrespect for the City’s planning approval process.
According to Kay Mascoli, one of the organizers of the No on N Committee: “The Citizens Voting NO on N campaign started out with a substantial database of supporters representing neighborhoods from all over the City of Mountain View. Our supporters included strong representation from the local business community, too. The number of supporters more than doubled before the election was over. Our campaign was focused on the issues. Our messages throughout the campaign, via mailers, ads and letters, sought to educate people on the key issues. We were also endorsed by 20 city officials: former and current mayors, city council members, planning commissioners and city planning directors, all residents of the community with a vested interest in the issue. Home Depot gained 2 endorsements from city officials. The tide turned in our favor at the end of the election when all 3 major newspapers that serve Mountain View came out with editorial endorsements in favor or “NO on N”. By a resounding vote, Home Depot has been denied its view of Mountain View. According to the LA Times, as much as $700,000 was spent by both sides on this battle — with most of that contributed by Home Depot itself.
Don’t waste any tears on Home Depot. There are already four other Home Depot stores close by Mountain View, in East Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, and Campbell. During the campaign, Home Depot promised to put out $3 million in road improvements, and other ‘sweeteners’. But residents argued that the store came with high costs to the city, and the ‘get rich quick’ rhetoric fropm Home Depot never really stuck. For more background on the Mountain View victory, search this database by “Mountain” or contact [email protected] The citizens’ group website is at www.NOonN.info.