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Residents Discuss Ways to Protest Walmart in Altadena

Local resistance to the arrival of a Walmart grocery store in Altadena was being organized Friday night at a meeting of the Save Altadena group.

became the center of Altadena's anti-Walmart sentiment when about 50 people gathered there Friday night to figure out ways to speak out against the impending arrival of a

The members of the Save Altadena group assembled Friday night's meeting and others before it, with organizer and former Town Council member Steve Lamb emphasizing to the audience some of the group's missions, such as supporting local businesses and finding ways to put Altadena's positive qualities in the spotlight.

"People think Altadena is a poor place, full of people who can't expect or don't deserve quality retail," he said. "I've been told that a lot … but if you look at the demographics, Altadena is one of the wealthiest places in Southern California."

Talk quickly turned to Walmart and its reputation among residents in many neighborhoods -- including Altadena -- as a harbinger of doom for homegrown businesses, property values and the local economy. One resident called it a "mom-and-pop killer", while another mentioned Bernadette Giglio, an Altadena resident who works in the fashion industry, who passed along a Wall Street Journal article that notes rising crime rates within a six-block radius of Walmart stores. 

While Lamb acknowledged there is nothing legally anyone can do to stop the opening of this particular Walmart market, the intent of the group is to "organize like we can stop it" and perhaps make an impact on discussion regarding future Walmart project sites in SoCal. 

"Walmart is playing this game … they've figured out how to get around the zoning code so there's no public comment. They've found more than 200 sites in Southern California where they are trying to do this," he said, adding that he has also written to Edel Vizcarra, the land use deputy for Supervisor Mike Antonovich, about the possibility of modifying county code to require conditional use permits for grocery stores that are more than 15,000 square feet. Unlike their traditional megastore brethren, Walmart neighborhood markets focus on groceries instead of serving up a wide-ranging litany of items to its customers.

The pervading theme of Save Altadena's grassroots messaging about Walmart was education. Someone jokingly mentioned taking pictures of Altadenans who would be shopping at the Walmart market. While that idea was quickly shot down, some saw potential in getting across a different message.

"Instead of making the people who need to shop there uncomfortable, how do we make the people who made this possible uncomfortable?" asked Shawna Dawson, another of Save Altadena's organizers. "I imagine that there must be an element of organized pressure that can be put on these folks."

Another resident mentioned how the use of yard signs can lead others to educate themselves. 

"I think things like the yard signs … even if it's after the first part of the campaign, could say 'I won't shop at Walmart' and we can express to people why that's important, and where they should be going," said Ericka Lozano-Buhl. "What are the independent businesses? Instead of saying you shouldn't shop at Walmart, we need to say 'This is why we say no to Walmart'. That's what we need to do."

Another resident noted that while the group doesn't have the legal ammunition to combat Walmart, "we have the power to boycott, we can speak with our wallets." Someone else mentioned speaking through hand-written letters to Los Angeles County's supervisors and land-use deputies. Lamb and Dawson also plan on gathering thoughts from the audience and other residents and compile them into bullet-pointed educational flyers to distribute. Other methods tossed around were bilingual meetings, flyers and the screening of films such as Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price, the 2005 documentary that examines Walmart's impacts and business practices.

At its meeting next week, the group plans to flesh out more ideas, including language on lawn signs and flyers. There will also be a screening of the Walmart documentary. Several members of the group also plan to attend Saturday morning's protest march against Walmart in Chinatown.

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madmilker June 30, 2012 at 03:54 PM
........psst!
madmilker June 30, 2012 at 03:54 PM
.............psst! psst!
madmilker June 30, 2012 at 03:55 PM
.....................psst! psst! psst!
madmilker June 30, 2012 at 03:56 PM
whatcha mean "Pending Approval".....I got something to type.
madmilker June 30, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Wal*Mart puts less than 5% foreign in all their stores in China. Wal*Mart made a port deal in Mexico. Wal*Mart hired an experienced lobbyist, field organizer and media relations strategist that came from a major PR firm that faked blogs for their client Wal*Mart. Wal*Mart hired a Russian that is said to have had "irretrievably soured relations" with First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov and his team, and with most influential United Russia members back in 2009. Did you know 1975 was the last year America had a trade surplus. Did you know Sam Walton was in Seoul that year. Did you also know Jimmy Hoffa disappeared that year.
madmilker June 30, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Now, America has a 6 to 1 trade deficit with China. After reading the paragraph in quotations below.....DO THE MATH. ["Now let us look at Wal-Mart again; you buy a product there, 6% goes to the employees, 10-18% is profit to the company, 25% goes to other costs and 50% goes to re-stock or the cost of goods sold. Of the 50% about 20-25% goes to China, a guess, but you get the point. Now then, how long will it take at 433 Billion dollars at year for China to have all of our money, leaving no money flow for us to circulate? At a 17 Trillion dollar economy less than 40-years minus the 1/6 they buy from us. Some say that if we keep putting money into our economy, it would take forever, but if we do not then eventually all the money flow will go. If China buys our debt then eventually they own us, no need to worry about a war, they are buying America, due in part to our own mismanaged trade, so whose fault is that? Not necessarily China, as they are doing what's in the best interests, and we should make sure that trade is not only free, but fair too."] http://www.worldthinktank.net/pdfs/TheFlowofTrade.pdf
madmilker June 30, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Retail makes NOTHING....it only moves a countries currency.... Just who's side is Wal*Mart on.....? they shove foreign made down the throats of Americans and those dollars goes to foreigners and at the same time they put less than 5% foreign in all their stores in China which keeps workers working and the Chinese currency floating around China. STOP THINKING CHEAP IS THE ANSWER....cheaper items only breed cheaper wages. Currency of a country is the fuel for that country to make stuff and once all the currency leaves that country the only thing left is Retail that makes NOTHING and the Government having to make MORE AND MORE DEBT by selling bonds in order to get some of the currency back into the country.
madmilker June 30, 2012 at 03:57 PM
WAKE UP BEFORE IT'S TO LATE. Support what your country makes and if you can't find what you are looking for keep your currency in your pocket book and purse cause it's better to have it there than in the hands of a foreigner. It will only be a short time later you will see Corporate America making what you want in these fifty states OR they will not have any fuel(currency) to make a dang thing anyway. Made In America made this union great not something foreign. Good day and God Bless
madmilker June 30, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Just maybe all you folks need to talk to Jane Little down in the great state of Mississippi.... cause http://msbusiness.com/2002/07/buddy8217s-jeans-are-bucking-trends/
madmilker June 30, 2012 at 04:01 PM
OR.... shuckin!! maybe that person they partnered with on that port down in Mexico. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0JZS/is_6_22/ai_n24984155/
madmilker June 30, 2012 at 04:05 PM
duh! is it really having to sit around and wait for someone to say "Pending Approval" or just have people in the community to support Made In America and watch jobs being created again.... This O'fart will go now.... You'll have a wonderful 4th of July and remember... "It is the aim of good government to stimulate production, of bad government to encourage consumption." - Jean Baptiste Say "Life is tough; it's tougher if you're stupid." - John Wayne
SteveB June 30, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Here's a thought - maybe all these highly motivated people could broaden their scope and also work towards seeing progress made on: - the Lincoln/Altadena Dr. development - the crater on Lake - improving Ralphs - improving the Rite Aid location - filling the Kragen site - filling the Blockbuster site
Mike Roberts June 30, 2012 at 05:32 PM
I wasn't there last night and don't know the context for quotes in the article but Who are the "people" that think Altadena is poor - according to Steve Lamb. Who are the Who? (Sounds like a Dr.Seuss book). The wide diversity of income means we have "poor" and "wealthy" in town. We have both, no matter what the census says. While I understand the desire of the community to want to vet WM, their "game" of going around zoning is just a business strategy. If you didn't have to paying $$$ for a CUP, why would you? I don't recall this group or anything similar recently calling out other new business that's come into town. Don't recall anyone bitching when Subway went into Lincoln Crossing. This is only b/c WM is the parent company. Shawna Dawson wants to make the people who made this possible feel uncomfortable? Look in the mirror people..... it's all of you! Stop pointing fingers. People in this town drive down the hill to shop b/c A LOT of what we want & need isn't in town. Maybe small independent biz in town needs to do a better job of stocking what we're driving down the hill to buy. It took a WM to call attention to get people to support small, independent business? Egads!
madmilker June 30, 2012 at 06:04 PM
["It took a WM to call attention to get people to support small, independent business? Egads!"] No! it's takes educating We the People on knowing what FREEDOM, LIBERTY AND HOPE is all about ..... Remember, the United States of America gave back the Panama Canal on the 31th of December 1999 and someone in Hong Kong controls both ends now.....
Mike Roberts June 30, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Good luck on your educational quest. In any event, this still sounds like an issue that will help local, independent businesss.
Bob Musselman June 30, 2012 at 11:17 PM
When is the meeting to "save Altadena" from boarded up thrift stores and more convenience liquor retailers? "Walmart is playing this game … they've figured out how to get around the zoning code..." Oh please. Is it a game to locate a retail stores in areas zoned for retail stores? The overwhelming number of residents I've talked to in northwest Altadena are looking forward to the Walmart opening. But they don't have to form an pro-Walmart alliance and attract media attention because there is nothing to protest. If the media is going to cover this anti-Walmart minority they should also canvass a cross-section of residents who don't waste their time on such activities, and report the true sentiment of the whole community.
cjthorny July 01, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Altadena is one of the so-called "food deserts" in SoCal according to an LA Times article a few months back. What do Altadenans want, another Ralphs, Vons, or Food 4 Less? Those are also giant corporations and they are slowly but surely driving out the union with each negotiation. From whom would you feel more comfortable buying your groceries and why? Everybody is rushing to the defense of "Mom and Pop" stores but tell me, where is there such a grocery store in Altadena? And if there is such a store, I doubt they provide decent benefits or pay and you will spend a lot more for your weekly groceries. Finally, please tell me if crime and/or property values are affected by grocery stores because this is not a Walmart, it is a GROCERY store owned by Walmart.
Pasadena guy July 01, 2012 at 01:37 AM
not a Altadena resident but I am a big fan of Altadena, my 1 cent People are not forced to shop at Wal-Mart or any other store. I am not a huge WM fan but the West side of Altadena needs a supermarket. For people with limited budgets and transportation ANY market in that area will make life a little easier.
Ivan G July 01, 2012 at 03:53 AM
Yes, there are so many vacant and run-down sites in Altadena that it is absurd to complain about a Walmart supermarket replacing a slum. Fair Oaks is also ripe for redevelopment.
Ivan G July 01, 2012 at 04:01 AM
It is no secret that the area along Lincoln all the way up to Altadena Drive is poor. It is also the highest crime area. Walmart should be commended for opening there. It was a struggle to get a viable market just two blocks south of there.
Ivan G July 01, 2012 at 04:01 AM
Right on!
Ivan G July 01, 2012 at 04:03 AM
We,the elite who know better, have to save area residents from their desire to save money. I think Neiman Marcus should open on Lincoln.
Dee July 01, 2012 at 03:13 PM
The intersection at Lincoln and Figueroa is barely able to handle the existing traffic. Each street has only one lane in each direction and street parking is allowed on both streets. Has anyone thought about the congestion that the extra traffic will cause? A store like Walmart really needs to be on a larger street that can handle the traffic. Lake and Fair Oaks are bigger streets that would have a better chance of handling the extra traffic.
Daniel E. Harlow July 01, 2012 at 04:47 PM
This is something the county and Walmart are aware of based on the meeting the Chamber had with them the other day and our discussions with the county reps. Daniel
Alana July 01, 2012 at 05:32 PM
I only feel poor when I compare myself to the wealthy. WalMart’s mission is to supply as much stuff at the lowest cost possible, serving one purpose: drive us to consume, enriching WalMart’s owners. Altadena lacks the shopping that a city like Pasadena has, but we may not want to aspire to that model. I would prefer to consume less and spend more on certain items to ensure that more of my dollars stay in Altadena. That requires shopping at stores that are truly local, if not owned by Altadenans, then employing and benefitting Altadena residents. I'm guessing very few Altadenans would work at the WalMart. While people choosing to shop at WalMart, rather than at the locally-owned shops, is what puts the local stores out of business, choosing to spend more money seems like a non-choice when you feel poor. While I choose to shop locally, I drive to nearby WalMart-type stores when I feel I need to; however, “need” is relative. By really paying attention to what I want my community to be, I find that my “needs” are much different than what TV tells me they should be. To me, the issue is really about what do those of us who wish to purchase from WalMart really want (I assume a nearby grocery store with lower prices for everyday items) and what do those of us who do not want WalMart to destroy the local flavor of Altadena really want (I assume the same thing in a more local package). If we work as a community, the question should be how to satisfy both desires.
Ivan G July 01, 2012 at 06:17 PM
The "flavor" of Lincoln and Figueroa is "slum." I do not want to preserve that.
Lisa Hastings July 02, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Lots of people in Altadena want nicer more upscale businesses to move in, such as Trader Joes or Sprouts. The problem is these upscale businesses apparently have done their research and so they do not see Altadena as a profitable area, and all they see is a depressed unincorporated area of the county. Unfortunately, depressed areas are attractive to businesses such as Walmart, McDonalds and Jack in the Box and of course, nail salons, thrift stores, liquor stores, and payday loan businesses. There really is no answer to this dilemma because no upscale business wants to open up in an area that is economically depressed, whether it is real or just a perception.
Ivan G July 02, 2012 at 04:08 AM
I agree. Frankly, I am a bit surprised that Walmart is willing to open at that location. Perhaps it is trying to show that it can help improve the community, or perhaps it believes that La Vina residents will shop there, because it will be the least unattractive store on the way home. There are plenty of other vacant locations in more desirable areas of Altadena where higher-end businesses could locate. There is space along Lake, Fair Oaks, and Altadena Drive.
disturbed. July 06, 2012 at 05:35 AM
One thing sticks out like a sore thumb from this entire ridiculous meeting. Someone suggested taking pictures of the people who shop there??!!! If I dare see any elite snot trying to take a picture of my daughter and I or anyone else for that matter- I will smash their $1,000 camera to bits! Jokingly or not- these people seem like they're on a witch hunt and out to get anyone who has a different view. A bunch of selfish, narcissistic jerks if you ask me. We are all different in this world and have different values. I think it's cruel to keep a guinea pig in the tiny cages they sell at Pet Smart. I think it's important to recycle. I think it's nice to have one parent stay home to raise children (but OBVIOUSLY not everyone can do this). But oh my word I'm so amazing for my principles that I'm going to organize an army of fellow narcissists and force my ideals on EVERYONE. ugh I'm done. I hope none of you Save Altadenians shop at the Walmart.
bruintracks July 11, 2012 at 05:35 PM
I'm just curious which LA Times article classified Altadena as a food desert because on the USDA site Altadena is not characterized as a food desert. Can you post a link to the article?

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