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Residents’ Concerns on La Palma Walmart Store Delivery Operations Have to Wait

By Rico Dizon

“Too close for comfort.” This old adage spells the situation that some La Palma residents are experiencing right now since the Walmart Neighborhood Store in La Palma started operations in May of this year.

From all indications the residents have to live for sometime with the disturbance after over a month and at least three meetings with Walmart representatives and the City Council since they voiced their indignations over the store’s operations that ruffled their quality of life.

This is the impression one gets after listening to the report by La Palma Director for Community Development Douglas Dumhart and the personal observations shared by affected resident Rene Buchanan during the last City Council meeting last Aug. 6.

Buchanan who lives at De Vries Lane and whose home is right beside the Walmart delivery area said, “this certainly is not a quick fix.” For example, a recommendation that appears in the City Council meeting agenda on Aug. 6 is “to adopt a resolution approving a building permit fee waiver for first in homeowners to raise their fence height and/or install noise reduction windows/and or doors.”

In the first place, the idea to raise their 5ft wall is not even workable and highly dangerous because the wall’s width is only 3 inches, the report said. “The existing wall has to be demolished and put up a new higher wall”, said Dumhart. Rene asked, “where will the money come from as we do not have the money to finance the construction of a new high-rise wall.”

Another recommendation is to adopt a resolution establishing truck delivery hours and no parking/stopping in the alley behind 5410-5482 La Palma Avenue. Again, this is something that is just too difficult to implement as it will have to change the California Vehicle Code as attested by the City Attorney.

The community development director posted a sign to warn Walmart delivery trucks of the prohibitive hours. As it turned out, the sign was posted right at the alley and confuses the truck drivers, Buchanan reported during the city council meeting.

She said the drivers were confused over the No Delivery before 7 AM and after 10 PM signs. As a result, she said the trucks are parked in the area overlooking our private home and yard while waiting for the allowed time to unload. She can also hear the load conversations of drivers over their 5 feet fence. She said the sign should be posted out in the streets along La Palma Ave. and Walker St. to warn drivers not to proceed to the alley yet before 7 A.M. and after 10 P.M.

Councilman Henry Charoen asked Walmart Public Affairs Director Aaron Rios who came to the meeting “to help educate their truck drivers in complying with the truck delivery ordinance. “We don’t want to give tickets to your truck drivers said the smiling councilmember.” The ticket costs $27.
In regards to other complaints that Walmart employees “hang around” in the delivery area during breaktime, Dumhart said the store agreed to lock the door leading to said area.
As for the use of the compressor which produces a very loud noise, this has to be evaluated, he said. Concerns over the security cameras in the area whose view range expose the privacy of the homes adjacent to the store’s unloading area, Dumhart said he was told by Walmart that the camera lens are fixed.

Asked by Councilman Gerard Goedhart if she thinks the situation improved, Buchanan answered, “yes but it is not perfect.” Her facial expression and body language though seem to communicate, “it is far from satisfactory.”

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