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Wal-Mart's Chinatown permits challenged by L.A. labor nonprofit

A nonprofit group filed a challenge Thursday to the Los Angeles building permits issued last week for a Wal-Mart grocery store in Chinatown, saying it is trying to protect the neighborhood’s quality of life.

Working with the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, a longtime Wal-Mart foe, the local chapter of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance filed an appeal to stop the discount store from obtaining its certificate of occupancy, the document needed to open the 33,000-square-foot market.

The Department of Building and Safety issued permits last week for Wal-Mart to complete improvements inside a storefront at Cesar Chavez and Grand avenues. Those permits were issued one day before the City Council voted to seek a temporary ban on large chains in Chinatown -– a maneuver widely viewed as an attempt to keep Wal-Mart out.

Chinatown resident Christilily Chiv said she supported the appeal, saying the timing of the permits was “definitely suspicious.”

“They were approved before our community could voice opposition at the City Council hearing,” she said in a statement.

The appeal accuses city officials of abusing their discretion when approving the permits, which were originally sought by the discount giant months ago.


Wal-Mart spokesman Steven Restivo responded by saying that the company’s plans complied with all city requirements.


“This action shows how far a handful of special interests will go to block jobs, economic development and new shopping opportunities from coming to the downtown and Chinatown communities,” he said.



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-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

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