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Judge slams the brakes on controversial Walmart project in Burbank

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Photo: FLLewis/Media City G -- Site of proposed Walmart 1301 North Victory Place at the Empire Center in Burbank

Photo: FLLewis/Media City G -- Site of proposed Walmart 1301 North Victory Place at the Empire Center in Burbank

In a move that has angered some while prompting others to cheer, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge has issued a preliminary injunction halting Walmart’s efforts to develop the old site of The Great Indoors on North Victory Place at the Empire Center in Burbank. Judge Robert O’Brien’s order, handed down Thursday August 23, stops the retail giant’s renovation of the site and puts on hold the city’s building permits issued to Walmart.

Judge O’Brien reportedly ruled that during a recent hearing the city did not show  the project would not have a negative impact on Burbank and its residents. The city, whose legal fees in the case are being paid for by Walmart, will now have to prove in court that the proposed Walmart supercenter is a benefit rather than a colossal mistake — one that would create a traffic nightmare in the area.

This is the latest round in a battle that has raged for months, over Walmart’s purchase of  The Great Indoors site and subsequent decision to open one of its supercenters there, complete with major grocery section. After considerable debate, last February the Burbank City Council voted 4-to-1 to approve the project and the permits needed to get it rolling. Councilwoman/Vice-Mayor, Emily Gabel-Luddy, was the lone “no” vote.

The “Stop Walmart in Burbank” forces have been in the forefront of the fight against the Walmart supercenter and backs a lawsuit blocking the project. The suit was filed by Giden Kracov, lawyer for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 770, on behalf of Burbank residents Shanna Ingalsbee, Katherine Olson, and Yvette Ziraldo.

In a statement sent out by “Stop Walmart in Burbank,” Ingalsbee reacted to the judge’s decision this way: “This is a victory for the residents and businesses in Burbank. We’re happy we can shine a light on Walmart’s actions and the need to follow the development rules in our community.  We hope this ruling gives our City the time necessary to seriously consider the significant negative impacts we feel Walmart would have on our City businesses and residents.”

In a Burbank Leader article, the city’s information officer Drew Sugars expressed disappointment at the injunction and the intent of the city to present a more detailed argument the next time the case ends up in court : “…we believe, clearly recognizes the city’s ability to bring forth further evidence during the trial.”

More on this latest Walmart development and reaction to it coming up.

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