Score another victory for community activists: The City Planning Department has rejected Home Depot’s request for an exemption from conducting a full environmental assessment about the impact of converting a closed K-Mart store in Sunland-Tujunga into another giant home improvement center.
Here’s the ruling issued today homedepoteir.pdf What city planners decided is that an exemption from the environmental study process is not appropriate because quite simply the store conversion is not “negligible” as Home Depot — a decision that will require a lengthy study and public debate.
The company has spent millions of dollars and used all its clout and gotten a lot of help from some city officials to ram this down the community’s throat.
It has sued the city and the City Attorney’s Dispute Resolution Program has lost its credibility trying to run roughshod over opposition.
Yet, all that’s happened is that Sunland-Tujunga has become a model of what residents can achieve when they organize.
Hundreds of people have gotten involved, taken action and raised their consciousness about the issues they face throughout the Sunland-Tujunga area. They have won battles to protect the historical nature of some neighborhoods and gotten special protections against mansionization among other victories.
But none is sweeter than than the long fight to make Home Depot comply with the law.
Home Depot got a building permit with no questions being asked three years ago, with no input from the community. A long and often vicious campaign followed as the community mobilized, set up When local residents found a websute and created enough political pressure to force the City Council to call the Planning Department to review the situation
Home Depot sued and then put it on hold while the city’s mediators trying to get around opponents and the planner went about the process of analyzing the company’s claims that the store conversion was just a simple remodel with new signs and security lights.
The “No Home Depot” campaign focused on traffic impacts, toxic chemicals near schools, local businesses that would be harmed and many other issues. What they really wanted was a general merchandise store and a community center that would meet their needs.
Home Depot’s response was to accuse the community of being racist and opposing day laborers hanging around the store as they do at most of the company’s home improvement centsrs.