Despite my lack of posts lately, I can assure you that the battle between Sunland-Tujunga and Home Depot is alive and well. If you recall, a hearing was held back in January that resulted in Home Depot having their building permits revoked. Home Depot has filed an Appeal to that decision and the final hearing on this matter will be held before the North Valley Area Planning Commission, on June 7th, 4:30 pm, at the Marvin Braude building in Van Nuys. Since this land use issue is of utmost concern to the residents of Sunland-Tujunga, a huge turn out by the community is anticipated at the hearing. Councilmember Wendy Greuel is also expected to attend and to address the Planning Commission in opposition to the proposed Home Depot.
In preparation for this hearing, Home Depot's attorneys, Latham & Watkins, have submitted a 700 page, 4 inch thick bundle of documents offered as "evidence" that they should get their permits back. As an attorney said to me, "Hey, if it takes 700 pages to make your point then you're just milking your client." In contrast, the 9-11 Commission report was 585 pages.
Home Depot has also seen fit to send a small army of signature gatherers to our little town over the holiday weekend. They were here to seek potential supporters for the proposed Home Depot. They staked themselves out at our various grocery stores and got busy. That's fine with me, but be sure and tell people, the real reason you're there, and who is paying you.
We have received numerous reports that some of these signature gatherers were claiming to be acting on behalf of the North Valley Area Planning Commission, The L.A. Housing Authority (huh?), neglecting to mention Home Depot, by name, in their pitch to passerbys, and instead saying, "Will you sign a petition to bring more jobs to the community?".
The most disturbing, and offensive statement reported made was, " The reason people don't want HD is because they don't want any Mexicans around here." This pitch, of course, was thrown out to Latino residents. Never mind that Sunland-Tujunga is around 40% Hispanic, and the NHDC has a large number of Latino supporters, just say whatever it takes to get the signature of support.
It was astonishing to witness this, to receive the reports of the racist angle, and to actually hear someone say they were contracted by the North Valley Area Planning Commission to conduct a survey. Meanwhile, underneath her "survey" page lay a stack of cards for people to sign in support of Home Depot.
The police were actually called in on several occasions to remove the paid pro Home Depot people from the various private properties they had occupied. Upon, or usually before the arrival of the LAPD , they would leave the premises, wait until the coast was clear, and then return. This scene repeated itself innumerable times over the weekend.
One's opinion on the proposed Home Depot store means nothing. One's opinion on these kind of tactics means everything.
The photo above is of two paid signature gatherers in the parking lot of Von's Market in Tujunga. Here is a link to a short video of them reacting to a cameraman: