Mayor Sam warned me this was going to happen, and now it has.
Without a word to the community, the City Attorney has made a backroom deal with my old friends, Home Depot, and it really looks like Sunland-Tujunga is about to get screwed!
Heres the Deal:
1. Home Depot puts a "stay" on their $10,000,000.00 lawsuit against the City.
2. Home Depot will submit a new application and will undergo
Project Permit Compliance Review.
3. The City Attorney has agreed to limit this process to a maximum of 5 months, unless both
parties mutually agree to an extension.
4. Home Depot will drop the litigation if the store is approved.
5. Home Depot will resume the litigation if the store is not approved.
6. Either party can pull out of this agreement at any time.
7. The City Attorney's office will spearhead an outreach program to the community and will form something called a "Stakeholders Committee" to mediate between Home Depot
Sounds good right? Wrong.
Holding the threat of resuming a lawsuit over the heads of everyone involved is not a good faith way to work towards a resolution. If Home Depot really wanted to work with the community, they would completely drop the lawsuit and work towards a mutually agreeable resolution. Here, they can walk away from the table anytime they like, not bound by any agreements, and sue if things are not going their way. The Sunland-Tujunga community is being asked to devote time and hard work to settling this mess, and we can't walk away unless the City Attorney says we can. That's one trump card for Home Depot to play.
The City Attorney has agreed to a 5 month time limit on the Project Permit Compliance Review.
He made this agreement not having seen what Home Depot's new plans entail. There is no way a full EIR (Environmental Impact Review) can be completed in a 5 month period, as just about everyone, but Home Depot, agrees that this Project must be subject to. There are just too many issues involved with a school being less than 500 ft away, a flood channel adjacent to the property, and only one road through town for this to be declared a mere MND (Mitigated Negative Declaration). Home Depot has been asked to conduct an EIR, and they have refused.
This becomes the second trump card Home Depot has in it's possession.
The fact that no one in Sunland-Tujunga was informed that this deal was in the works (we found out the details from Kerry Cavanaugh at the Daily News) until it was signed, is reason enough to be suspicious and very angry. I spoke with the City Attorney in charge of the case and he referred to Sunland-Tujunga as a "Special Interest Group". Imagine that. We are the town that is directly impacted by his backroom deal, but when we ask why we were not informed, his response is that his responsibility is to the City and not to us, as we are merely a special interest group.
Nice, Huh? I call this the "Chopped Liver" defense.
Now about the "Stakeholder Committee" that the City Attorney will form. Exactly who is on it?
Home Depot has a record of stacking hearings with paid supporters. They have had a very hard time of finding more than a handful of supporters in Sunland-Tujunga (most of which are employees of their company), so what will this committee look like?
10 opponents and 10 supporters? Hardly an accurate reflection of local sentiments.
The Deal Stinks! And we'd rather take our chances in the courtroom. But then again, that's just wishful thinking from the "Special Interest Group" of Sunland-Tujunga.
Get ready for a fight! As Joseph Mailander once said, "Sunland-Tujunga is isolated just enough that they don't know they can't fight City Hall..."