Residents, day labor groups have adopted a wait and see attitude towards the project
Published : Monday, June 17, 2019 | 5:09 AM
A Tuesday community meeting on plans for a new Home Depot on the shuttered Avon property at 2940 East Foothill Boulevard may draw nearby residents opposed to the project, but a company representative says the latest plan is just right.
A 2016 meeting on the subject — before any detailed plans were submitted or proposed — saw almost unanimous opposition to the project from the nearly 200 residents gathered at the Pasadena City College Community Education Center.
But a lawyer representing Home Depot said that since that earlier meeting the company has worked hard with neighbors and City officials alike to address all concerns. And an informal survey of current public sentiment indicates many Pasadenans favor the store’s advent.
Home Depot has now submitted building plans to the City of Pasadena Planning and Community Development Department and is preparing to move forward with the project.
Last year in May, a community site committee, organized by Councilmember Gene Masuda, met with Home Depot representatives to air their concerns. According to Masuda, residents were concerned about historic buildings, traffic, signage and “day laborers hanging around.”
“Home Depot was interested in reusing some of the existing buildings, rather than knocking down the building and starting anew,” Masuda added. “The committee members felt that saving the buildings on Foothill Boulevard would be very positive for the community.”
Home Depot eventually shared a concept plan with the committee on October 3. Masuda said he has not seen the current development plans, but said, “I am optimistic that the committee would be open to the project.”
Masuda also noted that the committee told Home Depot that a Costco will not be included with the project.
Pasadena Planning and Community Development Director David Reyes said that Home Depot submitted its application for a building permit to remodel, alter and re-use existing buildings at the Avon site as a Home Depot on April 8.
“Staff has reviewed the plans to evaluate them against applicable City Codes and regulations,” Reyes told Pasadena Now last week. Building and Safety, Planning, Transportation, Fire, Public Works and Water and Power all reviewed the plans…”
The building permit could be issued within three months depending on whether the applicant resubmits revised plans with the corrections identified by staff in a timely manner, according to Reyes.
Once the plans show compliance with applicable regulations, a building permit can be issued to allow the work to commence, said Reyes.
The site is just short of 14 acres in size. It was opened in 1947 and closed in 2013. Reyes has called it one of the biggest development sites in the city.
Land use Attorney Richard McDonald, who has represented a number of large developments and is representing Home Depot, said last week, “Everything we’ve done is to work with the neighborhood, and work with the Councilman’s office, and work with the City to do the right thing, to do the best possible work.”
Home Depot can be a lightning rod for controversy in many communities. The stores are often welcomed by cities for their job and sales tax benefits but opposed by anti-development advocates, and local residents who fear the effect on local traffic, as well as the presence of day laborers who gather at Home Depot sites in hopes of work.
The day lbaorer matter prompted the City of Los Angeles to require, since 2008, that Home Depot stores designate a site in its parking lots for day laborers seeking contracting jobs. The sites are funded by Los Angeles but operated by nonprofit organizations.
Pasadena labor activist Pablo Alvarado of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), said he is concerned about the impact of the new large Home Depot on smaller local stores, as well as the store’s relationships with day workers.
“When you care about a community, you also want to care about the smaller mom and pop businesses that might be affected by these large businesses,” he told Pasadena Now Friday.
“And the question that politicians have to respond is ‘What is better for our community?” he continued. “That we open the doors to large corporations or … that we incentivize some of the smaller businesses that are owned by our own residents? Because what happens with these large corporations coming into a local locality is they obviously … make a lot of profit. But the question is, ‘What is it that they give back?’”
Alvarado said that NDLON “looks forward to engaging with the City to talk about the right of day laborers because the practice of Home Depot is that they use police to bar the laborers from soliciting employment in front of them in front of their stores.”
His group plans to “dialogue with the appropriate parties,” Alvarado said. “And if the rights of day laborers, the constitutional right, the free speech rights of a person to spend on a sidewalk, are aggravated, then we will respond. And it could be in the street, it could be in the court and it could be in the court of public opinion, but for sure, you know, day laborers are going to be protected.”
The Home Depot community meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Pasadena City College Community Education Center, 3035 East Foothill Blvd, Pasadena. Complimentary parking is available.