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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Opponents of Chinatown Walmart Sue City of L.A.

Community groups claim the city did not allow for proper community input.

Protesters rallied in Chinatown Thursday morning, the same day community and labor groups sued the city of Los Angeles over issuing permits for Walmart to build in Chinatown without a proper chance for the public to respond.

The groups claim that an existing redevelopment plan for the Chinatown area requires the city to hold Community Redevelopment Agency and other board meetings before issuing permits on such projects.

The store, which will include and grocery store and pharmacy, is already under construction. It will be 33,000 square feet, about a fifth the size of a "superstore."

The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and the Southeast Asian Community Alliance filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court. APALA Vice President Jan Tokumaru said the Walmart store would hurt Chinatown's cultural and economic climate.

"APALA has fought this project from the very beginning because of the economic and cultural devastation that would be wreaked upon Asian-American workers, businesses and residents," Tokumaru said. "This is a high stakes lawsuit. We hope it could put an end to the illegal silencing of the Chinatown community voice."

Walmart spokesman Steven Restivo pointed out that the store is supported by a tenant group for the Grand Plaza apartments, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and other business and community organizations.
"On appeal, our permits have been upheld by the Department of Building and Safety, the Planning Department's Zoning Administrator and the Central Area Planning Commission," Restivo said.

Walmart said the Chinatown store will open later this year.

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