Los Angeles Business Journal

Injunction Stops Construction on Burbank Wal-Mart

By Deborah Crowe Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge on Thursday issued a written preliminary injunction ordering Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to cease all construction on its Wal-Mart Supercenter in Burbank. He also ordered the city of Burbank to suspend its approval of building permits pending a trial.

The supercenter is proposed to go into the site of a closed Great Indoors home furnishings store at Burbank Empire Center, which is home to several big-box retailers. A suit filed by activists in May argued the City Council broke the law when it allowed issuance of building permits to renovate the structure.

The store site is among the first that demonstrated Wal-Mart’s new strategy in California; it plans to go into already-entitled sites regardless of whether they fit the retailer’s normal square-footage needs. The strategy bypasses the contentious entitlement process Wal-Mart often faces in the state because Wal-Mart needs only routine permits.

But the judge, Robert O’Brien, said that the city had failed to show proper issuance of the permits, which opponents said did not require sufficient parking and traffic mitigation. Opponents also contend the store violates zoning laws banning grocery stores in the center.

“We're happy we can shine a light on Wal-Mart’s actions and the need to follow the development rules in our community,” said plaintiff Shanna Ingalsbee in a statement. “We hope this ruling gives our city the time necessary to seriously consider the significant negative impacts we feel Wal-Mart would have on our city businesses and residents.”

A Wal-Mart spokeswoman called the ruling “shortsighted” and said the Bentonville, Ark. company was reviewing its options.

"We’re disappointed in today's ruling because the building permits issued to Wal-Mart are no different than the 1,300 other building permits that have been issued over the past 12 years to construct the entire Empire Center,” said Rachel Wall in a statement.”