Los Angeles Business Journal

Court Blocks Burbank Wal-Mart

By Howard Fine Originally published September 4, 2013 at 11:04 p.m., updated September 6, 2013 at 11:24 a.m.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge on Wednesday blocked Wal-Mart from opening a store in Burbank, saying the city failed to conduct an adequate environmental impact review.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Allan Goodman ordered the city of Burbank to rescind its permits allowing Wal-Mart to convert a store in the Empire Center into a Wal-Mart supercenter.

“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. He added that the city also failed to complete traffic mitigation measures in time for the planned store opening.

Wal-Mart initially proposed the store two years ago as part of a new strategy to fit their stores into existing retail centers, thereby only requiring basic use permits. But Burbank residents concerned about excessive traffic in the crowded Empire Center filed suit. In August 2012 a judge issued an injunction to stop construction until the merits of the case could be heard.

The injunction was lifted in June, but Wal-Mart chose to wait until Goodman’s ruling before proceeding with construction.

A Wal-Mart spokeswoman on Friday said the company was evaluating its legal options.

"We believe the vacant, former Great Indoors store is suited for Walmart 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," Rachel Wall, senior manager of community affairs, said in a statement.