Chinatown Small Businesses, Asian-American, and Community Groups File Appeal to Walmart Building Permits
11th Hour Permits Obtained by Walmart in Attempt to Rush
Community Opposed Store Now Challenged
Los Angeles, CA— According to a story in today’s Frying Pan News, Chinatown small businesses, residents, and other community groups filed an appeal to the building permits approved for the proposed, controversial Chinatown Walmart grocery store. Walmart received last minute permits last Thursday, March 22, less than 24 hours before the city council unanimously voted to regulate large retail chains in Chinatown.
Arkansas based Walmart will not be able to open the proposed store without a final Certificate of Occupancy. As a result of this appeal, the building permits will be subject to future review by various city departments and the decision to grant the permits could be reversed. The appeal raises questions about whether the Department of Building and Safety fully reviewed all of the proposed plans and conditions imposed on the project by the CRA and other city departments.
In February 2012, Walmart proposed a small format grocery store at 701 W. Sunset Boulevard in Chinatown. The store has sparked resistance from community groups and small business owners who feel that the local community and businesses could be disrupted by the entrance of the large retailer. In 2005, Walmart also attempted to circumvent the public’s input. They financed a failed ballot initiative in Inglewood that would have eliminated community decision making around their proposed store in that community.
Community residents, organizations, and small businesses were adamant Thursday about preserving the historic spirit of Chinatown and making sure that widespread business and cultural displacement did not occur.
“What’s at stake is that our very livelihoods are being threatened,” said Satit Thuvamontolrat, owner of Sorrento Liquor. “The proposed Walmart store could put my store of 30 years, along with countless other small businesses out of work for good. That is why I oppose Walmart and support the appeal of the building permits.”
“The timing of the building permits was definitely suspicious. They were approved before our community could voice opposition at the city council hearing,” said Christilily Chiv, a Chinatown resident. “Starting today, we now have an opportunity through the appeal to affirm our intentions of keeping Chinatown culturally diverse and under the thumb of huge retailers.”
“LAANE supports its community partners in protecting the quality of life for Chinatown’s residents and businesses,” said Aiha Nguyen, Senior Policy Analyst of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE). “Walmart would only displace business and bring poverty jobs.”
“APALA has always supported good jobs in our communities. We have fought Walmart’s low paying jobs in Asian-American communities like El Monte and here in Chinatown,” said Lucia Lin, Executive Board Vice President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA). “We believe there should be community input and job standards.”
Combining dynamic research, innovative public policy and the organizing of broad alliances, LAANE’s work has helped tens of thousands of people attain better wages and health benefits, and has improved public health for hundreds of thousands of people across the region. LAANE led the coalition of community, clergy, and labor groups to win the “Superstores Ordinance” in the City of Los Angeles and Inglewood in 2004. For more information on LAANE, visit http://www.laane.org