UPCOMING EVENTS

Group files lawsuit to kill Lowe’s project

By Sharon Gibbs, executive director, Alhambra Chamber of Commerce

A lawsuit has been filed to kill the proposed Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Alhambra.

Updated May 3, 2017

Alhambra’s Planning Commission and City Council approved a plan for a new Lowe’s Home Improvement store and mix of commercial development on a vacant 12-acre site on Fremont Avenue. The Alhambra Chamber of Commerce, an advocate for smart growth, business development, and job creation, endorses the development.

The Lowe’s store will provide residents, businesses, and “do it yourselfers” more choices to purchase home improvement products and will create up to 150 jobs paying $17 an hour plus benefits. The development will also benefit the City of Alhambra, generating anticipated new sales tax revenue of over $300,000 annually. That money supports police officers, firefighters, and other critical City services that the residents of Alhambra rely on to maintain their community. The Alhambra Unified School District will also benefit financially from fees paid by the developer.

Besides generating jobs and tax revenue, Lowe’s, through its Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation, contributed nearly $32 million to improve communities in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. One hundred percent of stores participated in the Lowe’s Heroes employee volunteer program in 2015. Lowe’s Heroes volunteered 93,653 hours to complete 1,935 projects. Since 2006, Lowe’s Toolbox for Education has contributed more than $45 million to 10,000 kindergarten through 12th-grade schools.

As a way to mitigate added traffic on Fremont, the developer of the proposed Lowe’s store will install a new traffic signal and dedicated right turn traffic lights. Additionally, it agreed to give the City $500,000 to be used to close Meridian Avenue south of Concord to prevent traffic negatively impacting the Emery Park neighborhood.

The vacant site was once home to now bankrupt International Extrusion, a heavy metals processing facility that left the land highly contaminated. The developer cleaned the site and is obtaining all required documentation from governing bodies to proceed with the building of the Lowe’s.

Despite these benefits to Alhambra residents and the precautions taken to alleviate any negative impact, a group known as the Grassroots Community Group of Alhambra filed a lawsuit to kill the proposed Lowe’s development. The suit alleges the proposed development violates environmental law. A spokesperson for the developer, The Charles Company, said they will defend the lawsuit and indemnify the City.

Cory Briggs, a San Diego lawyer with a reputation of filing lawsuits against development projects up and down California, filed the lawsuit. According to the online news blog Voice of San Diego, “No attorney sues under the state’s main environmental quality law more than San Diego lawyer Cory Briggs. Depending on who you ask, that makes him either the environmental movement’s MLK or the guy who’ll sue over anything — even a birdhouse.”

Mr. Briggs’ lawsuits tend to follow a formula: “A local City Council approves a development. A nonprofit with a watchdoggy name sues, with Briggs as its attorney. The developer settles the case and pays Briggs a huge settlement for his trouble. It’s often unclear who is against the project other than Briggs himself,” said the Voice of San Diego.

Like Mr. Briggs’ other matters, it is unclear how this action would benefit the citizens of Alhambra and instead appears to be an attempt to leverage the lawsuit for a quick payoff.All indications are that the City of Alhambra and the developer of the Lowe’s Home Improvement store are being held hostage.

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May 2017

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