Walmart's Chinatown Dreams Challenged by Lawsuit Saying Public Kept in Dark

Foes of the planned Walmart Neighborhood Mart in Chinatown held a big rally over the weekend that featured entertainment from Tom Morello and Ben Harper.

This week they've left the music behind, however, and taken things to court.

The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) and the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 770 announced today that they're suing the city of L.A. for allegedly failing ...

... to notify the public of its decision to issue a Notice of Exemption (NOE) which allows the Walmart store in Chinatown to move forward without environmental review. The lawsuit will also ask a judge to stop construction at the store in Chinatown.

That according to a statement from the two groups.

The parties argue that Walmart received "special" treatment from a City Hall that has long been pro-labor.

The groups are dead against the Chinatown store, even though it's not going to be a typical big-box mega-market, because the company does not use union workers and does not pay most employees what activists believe to be a "living wage."

L.A. has been a desert for such big-box stores largely because of its pro-union politics. But this one slipped through the cracks (others are planned).

Strangely, the day after final approvals for the Chinatown Walmart were rubber-stamped at City Hall, the L.A. City Council passed a motion banning such stores from the neighborhood. (Really?).

Anyway, the lawsuit, which the groups said today has already been filed, claims that the L.A. Department of Building and Safety "kept us in the dark" about the pending environmental exemption -- allegedly against California law -- said Jan Tokumaru from APALA.

King Cheung, Chinatown Committee for Equitable Development:

We are asking a judge to find the city in violation of state law and demand that it reissue the environmental exemption. Moreover, we are asking that construction at the store stop as a result of this abuse of power by the city.

We'll see.


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