A proposed Burbank Wal-Mart will have to undergo an environmental review before it can move forward following a judge’s decision this week to block the store.
L.A. County Superior Court Judge Allan Goodman ordered the city on Wednesday to rescind permits allowing the Bentonville, Ark. retailer from opening a 143,000-square-foot store in the city’s busy Empire Center.
The company had proposed converting a closed Great Indoors home furnishing store into a supercenter, and the city granted permits without requiring an environmental review, prompting a lawsuit by opponents.
“The city has proceeded in a manner not authorized by law, failed to conduct any environmental assessment when the facts and circumstances clearly require at least an initial inquiry and failed to exercise its discretion when clearly required to do so,” Goodman wrote in his decision
The judge added that the city also failed to complete traffic mitigation measures in time for the opening of the store at 1301 N. Victory Place, which is also near a Costco.
Wal-Mart, which has struggled to penetrate the L.A. market, proposed the store two years ago as part of a new strategy to open stores at existing retail centers, which would require fewer permits.
Rachel Wall, senior manager of community affairs for Wal-Mart, said on Thursday that the retailer is reviewing the ruling and evaluating all available legal options.
“We believe the vacant, former Great Indoors store is suited for Wal-Mart and the permits were granted properly by the city of Burbank – like the more than 1,300 similar permits granted for this shopping center over the last 13 years,” she said in an email.
The lawsuit was brought by residents Shanna Ingalsbee, Katherine Olson and Yvette Ziraldo. It was handled by attorney Gideon Kracov, who previously worked on cases that delayed the opening of a Wal-Mart in Torrance last year and delayed one in Chinatown set to open this year.
Kracov is counsel for United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 770, which has fought Wal-Mart stores since they carry groceries and employ non-union workers.