Molina vows to join Wal-Mart opponents

This article was copied from the SGV Tribune website.

Molina vows to join Wal-Mart opponents

By Jason Kosareff , Staff Writer

ROSEMEAD -- Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina came out against a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter in Rosemead on Thursday during a heated meeting.

"I'm going to that City Council meeting and opposing the project,' Molina told roughly 300 people gathered at Evergreen Baptist Church. "I want you to know that I'll be sitting with you, hoping they don't vote for it.'

The Rosemead City Council has tentatively set Sept. 7 as the date when council members will approve or decline the proposed Wal-Mart.

Most of the Rosemead and South San Gabriel residents attending the meeting were opposed to the proposed 18.7-acre Wal-Mart bordered by Walnut Grove Avenue, Rush Street and Delta Avenue.

Rosemead planner Steve Copenhaver delivered a presentation frequently interrupted by boos and loud grumblings. Some in the audience called it a "sales pitch.'

Copenhaver told residents several mitigating measures have been taken to reduce the impact a Wal-Mart would have on nearby neighborhoods and schools.

A 14-foot sound wall would keep noise from bothering residents on Delta Avenue, a truck entrance on Rush Street was done away with, a proposed gas station was scrapped, extra retail space was scaled down and more landscaping was added, Copenhaver said.

But it was not enough to turn the crowd.

After the presentation, Rosemead city staff answered questions submitted on paper by the audience.

"Doesn't a 14-foot wall and all these restrictions tell you a Wal-Mart is out of place in this neighborhood?' was the question one person submitted.

Copenhaver said the proposed Wal-Mart would bring in between $430,000 and $636,000 in annual sales tax revenue to the city.

Molina said she could sympathize with the city's need for sales-tax dollars, but said Wal- Mart is not the answer.

Wal-Mart opponents argue the extra 12,100 car trips per day the project would attract are too much for the surrounding residential neighborhood to handle.

Henry Lo, a member of the Garvey School District Board of Education, said he is worried about the safety of students at three district schools near the Wal-Mart site.

"I'm opposed to it,' Lo said.

If Molina based her decision on the reaction to Wal-Mart by the crowd, then she was on the money. At times the audience became so vocally against Wal- Mart that the moderator of the meeting threatened to kick people out.

Molina represents the unincorporated area of South San Gabriel.

Delta Avenue, a residential street running through the area, leads directly to Wal-Mart. She said traffic on that street would be much higher than Rosemead planners anticipate.

South San Gabriel resident Joel Robjano, 45, said the meeting was informative.

"But,' Robjano said, "I don't think that anything could change the course that's been set.'

-- Jason Kosareff can be reached at (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2717, or by e-mail at .