Hoping to protect their community’s semi-rural landscape and lifestyle, a group of residents and small business owners in Agoura Hills, California are pushing for a ballot initiative that would ban retail stores larger than 60,000 square feet. Agoura Hills is a town of 20,000 people located about 35 miles north of Los Angeles.
Citizens for Responsible Development (CRD) began organizing earlier this year after a developer proposed building a 255,000 square foot retail complex south of Highway 101. The complex would include a 139,000 square foot Home Depot store.
Several hundred residents have turned out for town meetings to voice opposition to the development. CRD is now gathering the 1,900 signatures it needs to place the size cap measure before the voters. If they succeed, the vote will be held in January. Meanwhile, the project and proposed size cap have become major issues in the November City Council race.
One of the primary concerns about the proposed retail complex is its impact on existing businesses. Home Depot would likely reduce sales and perhaps force the closure of six locally owned businesses, including a hardware store, lumber dealer, equipment renter, fence business, door supplier, and building materials company. Reductions in jobs and tax revenue at these stores would substantially offset the gains expected from the Home Depot.
Another significant concern is the project’s impact on traffic and the environment. The complex would require the removal of more than 40 native oak trees and the widening of Agoura Road from two to four lanes. Estimates suggest the project will generate about 13,000 car trips daily, adding congestion and pollution to an interchange that currently handles 40,000 cars a day.