White homemade signs, muffled gasps and cheers filled the Cerritos City Council chambers as the city council denied Goodwill SOLAC a conditional use permit to open a store on Carmenita Road. With Councilman Mark Pulido being the odd man out, the majority of the Oct. 11 meeting audience seemed to be on the council's side.
to use the already deteriorating former Rite-Aid location on 17518 Carmenita Rd. After the city's failed attempt to establish a moratorium, Goodwill conducted a series of open houses, reaching out to residents near the proposed store area. According to Goodwill SOLAC Director of Commercial Operations Julie Dover, Goodwill sent out their store plan to 550 nearby residents, trying to address all the neighborhood's concerns.
"We accept all conditions of approval," Dover said. "We take them seriously, and we understand the consequences for non-performance."
The extensive public comments section of the Oct. 11 meeting provided helpful insight as to what residence really sought to avoid had the permit been approved. Potential for transient activity and late-night drop-offs seemed to be a shared concern for residents, even after Goodwill SOLAC agreed to having its item drop-offs take place in the front of the store and behind a locked gate after business hours. It was easy to tell when a Goodwill SOLAC representative was about to approach the podium when residence behind them would instantly raise their signs reading "NO 2ND STORE."
Cerritos already has one Goodwill location at 10745 South St., on the west end of the city, bordering Lakewood.
Joyce Corrigan, a resident of Cerritos since its Dairy Valley days, said that the Goodwill is "good," but the main concern is the drop-off center, saying the front gate gives it a prison-like appearance.
"I don't want to have a prison in front of my house," Corrigan said. "I don't want a place that has to have gates around it, worried about people that are going to hang around there. I've lived there long enough. I'd rather have the cows back than have the Goodwill store there."
Jonathan Doty, representing partial property ownership of the 17518 Carmenita Rd. location, spoke on behalf of Goodwill. Doty said security cameras will be added, as well as added parking to exceed city code requirement and 400 square feet of landscaping to offset the area's deteriorated state.
"Goodwill will create a shopping alternative for Cerritos, and Goodwill creates jobs," Doty said.
Mayor Pro tem Bruce Barrows said his concern is protecting Cerritos' assets.
"I do have a very strong issue with protecting our assets," Barrows said. "I don't really have a problem with Goodwill and their mission, but I do have a very strong issue with protecting our assets."
Pulido explained to the audience and to his fellow councilmembers that he would, in fact, be voting against the option to deny Goodwill SOLAC a conditional use permit, believing it goes against his conscience.
"I hope that you can respect my position, because I do respect yours. I'm doing this not necessarily for you, but frankly, I'm doing it for my two kids. I can only be who I am."
Mayor Jim Edwards defended his right to vote freely in spite of threats from community members to not favor him in upcoming elections.
"March is the end of my eight years, but I just think maybe this is the time to say that after eight years of hearing threats, I have to be honest with you that I don't like them," said Edwards. "And I don't vote because I'm threatened that I won't get re-elected."
The next city council meeting will be held on Oct. 25.
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Previously on Patch:
- Planning Commission Blocks Proposed Goodwill Store
- Planning Commission Rejects Reconsideration of Goodwill Store
- Goodwill Venting: Cerritos Residents 'Elitist Attitudes' on Display Over Proposed Goodwill Store
- Goodwill Seeks City Approval for Store in Cerritos