No Home Depot Campaign protest announcement
NO HOME DEPOT CAMPAIGN TO GATHER SUNLAND-TUJUNGA COMMUNITY
FOR PROTEST AGAINST NEW STORE, L.A. BUREAUCRACY'S FAILURES
NHDC Cites Unresponsive Government, Lack of Community Voice in Process;
12/11 L.A. Times Story Indicates Growing Interest in Grass-Roots Struggle Against Predatory Retail
Opponents of a new Home Depot store in Sunland-Tujunga will hold a public demonstration on Thursday, Dec. 14, from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in front of the former Kmart (8040 Foothill Blvd., the site of the proposed new store).
Members of the No Home Depot Campaign (NHDC), which organized the protest and has been fighting the new store for two years, argue that Home Depot has skirted multiple regulatory obstacles in the process of muscling its way into the neighborhood — and that the city has been negligent in policing the process.
The organization has long insisted that a Home Depot store isn't needed in Sunland-Tujunga, and that the community would be better served by an all-purpose retailer or other business that serves the needs of local residents — who must often drive outside city limits for essentials but can easily obtain hardware and other products vended by Home Depot from local merchants.
"We're protesting the city's failure to enforce its own laws," says the NHDC's Joe Barrett. "Every time we go to them documenting another problem with this Home Depot plan, they spin their way out of it. The Department of City Planning and the Department of Building and Safety seem to have forgotten their purpose and now appear to work hand in hand with developers. The system as it currently exists provides virtually no voice to the average citizen. So we're going to raise our voices in the community — and on Thursday we're going to be heard across the city."
Barrett also contends that the NHDC appeal to block the store has been mishandled by the City and subject to arbitrary delays — while the Home Depot store is in the midst of construction, ripping the slab of the old Kmart out and piling up debris (some of which, according to the group, may be hazardous). "We're asking that construction stop while we sort all this out, which is what any rational person — and any responsible local government — would want," Barrett asserts.
On Monday, Dec. 11, the Los Angeles Times ran a story about the issue, indicating a rising level of interest in community response to retail expansion (a similar struggle against a new Home Depot outlet is taking place in the northeast L.A. neighborhood of Glassell Park). But Barrett takes exception to Home Depot rep Kathryn Gallagher's contention, quoted in the article, that there is "tremendous support" for the new store. "She makes it sounds as if the community is 50 percent in favor and 50 percent against a new Home Depot store in Sunland-Tujunga," he says. "We had a Town Hall meeting where over 360 attended and only eight people supported a Home Depot — and it looked like they were paid to be there."