Home Depot sues Los Angeles

Home Depot has filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles, claiming that the city revoked a remodeling permit for political reasons after the company had almost completed a Kmart conversion project. The Atlanta retailer is seeking $10 million in damages and compensation, as well as a lifting of the stop-work order and reinstatement of its permits.

The lawsuit, filed on Nov. 9 in Los Angeles Superior Court, involves a vacant Kmart store in the Sunland-Tujunga community, on the northern edge of Los Angeles. Home Depot took over the lease for the store in 2004 but faced stiff community opposition to its plans to raze the site and build a new unit. In 2006, the city’s building department issued permits for Home Depot to remodel the store instead, but citizens still opposed the project because of concerns over traffic, air quality, noise and possible effects on local businesses.

This past July, the Los Angeles City Council revoked Home Depot’s remodeling permits, saying the project needed an environmental review. The store was 90 percent complete, according to the company.

Home Depot claims that it was singled out for unfavorable treatment and that the city’s action was illegal. It also alleges that the campaign against it was aided by city councilmember Wendy Greuel and a local competitor, a chain of hardware stores called Do-it Centers.

Neither Wendy Greuel nor Do-it Centers, a 10-unit chain based in Chatsworth, Calif., could be reached yesterday for comment. But in a press release issued by her office on Aug. 15, Greuel stated that the Kmart remodel was a “project” involving structural alterations and therefore required a building or change-of-use permit.

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