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Publication Date: Friday, January 18, 2002

Home Depot Opponents unveil Castro Street home, new name Home Depot Opponents unveil Castro Street home, new name (January 18, 2002)

By Bill D'Agostino

Outside Castro Street last Thursday night, confused onlookers gawked at the large stuffed gorilla in the window meant to represent giant retailer Home Depot.

But inside, revelers _ taking on the role of a slingshot-armed David _ were celebrating the launch of their campaign to run the Goliath Home Depot out of town.

The group has two months to convince a majority of the city's voting populace that a Home Depot store at the old Emporium site (along El Camino Real, near 85) is a bad idea. On March 5, the city will vote on measure N and the fate of the retail giant _which owns a long-term lease on the property _ will, for the time being, be decided.

If the measure passes, the opponents _ now officially calling themselves Citizens Voting No on N _ worry that Home Depot, and the traffic and congestion that they say will come with the new store, will be here to stay.

The gorilla statue may be crude, Campaign Organizer Kay Mascoli said, but it's an effective marketing tool and something for people to remember when they get inside the ballot box.

Home Depot, has been trying to force its way into town, according to Lawrence Vallandigham, the group's Committee Chair. He believes they have performed an "end-run around the City Planning process" that all local businesses are required to adhere.

Home Depot disagrees, saying that the city has limited their rights as a property owner, and discriminated against them.

Last year, right before a city council vote on whether the store could be built at the Emporium site, Home Depot withdrew its plan, and began a campaign to get the issue on the ballot.

The last minute change angered many residents, especially those located near the Emporium site, who have been the most active rivals of the store coming to Mountain View.

Those neighbors fear that large trucks bringing supplies to the store will dramatically alter their quality of life. "I'd like to ask one of the Home Depot executives 'Would you like to live behind one of your stores?'" said Kathy Hall, a resident who lives near the proposed site and attended last Thursday's open house.

Despite dangling a carrot worth $450,000 _ the amount of sales tax revenues the company estimates the store will produce _ in front of the city, Home Depot has also earned the ire of many top Mountain View officials. City Council Member Rosemary Stasek, Former Mayor Matt Allen and Planning Commissioner Tom Frankum also attended the open house to support the group voting No on N.


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