Despite the appeals made on behalf of Goodwill SOLAC by the non-profit’s chief executive officer and several of its board members, the Cerritos Planning Commission adopted a resolution denying the store a conditional use permit.
The June 6 meeting in the City Hall Council Chambers, , was a , who live in close proximity to the store’s proposed location at 17518 Carmenita Road.
Last week, city staff presented the commission with a resolution of denial, providing an opportunity for the body to reconsider its 4-1 May vote, leading to the store being blocked.
This time, in a 3-2 vote, Commissioner Nick Heung Kim was swayed and changed his vote joining Frank Yokoyama, who voted in favor of the project last month.
Kim admitted that he was “biased” towards Goodwill, and that he changed his vote after visiting the Cerritos store at 10745 South Street along with the Norwalk and Fullerton locations.
Kim, who said he doesn’t live far from the proposed location, indicated he contacted residents in the area and found that opinions on the store were mixed, with many voicing support.
With the exception of Cerritos resident Anitra Dempsey, who also indicated that she serves on Goodwill’s board of trustees, the remaining residents who spoke opposed the store.
Cerritos resident Johnny Eng said, “Most of the residents here don’t want a Goodwill type operation here.”
Joyce Corgan, who also attended the prior meeting, said, she would prefer a “nice restaurant,” not Goodwill.
Another resident said, “We don’t like this cheap store” coming to Cerritos.
These comments followed a PowerPoint presentation by Goodwill CEO and President Janet McCarthy, during which, she provided a detailed history and background information about the charity’s mission.
McCarthy also provided a slideshow of pictures of the Norwalk location in an attempt to calm residents’ concerns about illegal dumping and debris.
McCarthy also displayed a letter from Los Angles County Supervisor Don Knabe (see letter from Supervisor Knabe in image carousel) supporting the store and more than 100 letters from Cerritos residents also in support.
Joseph Levy, who said he’s served on Goodwill’s board for 10 years, mentioned that some of the residents’ comments were motivated by “biases” and examples of “hiding prejudice.”
Levy said Goodwill is “bringing value to 11 diverse cities in our region.” He later added, “Goodwill is not what people think it is. I urge you all to please reconsider.”
One of the primary concerns residents have trained their focus on through two meetings is the proposed store’s drop-off donation center. Cerritos’ existing Goodwill store lacks a donation center, said McCarthy.
However, the submitted application for the Carmenita store contains a request for a drop-off center which triggered the need for a conditional use permit, said city attorney Mark Steres.
Goodwill representative Julie Dover cited several city businesses she claimed advertise for and accept donated goods, but were not subject to acquiring a conditional use permit.
Vice Chair Chuong Vo asked Director of Community Development Torrey Contreras about Dover’s claims.
Contreras said he wasn’t aware of any businesses being out of compliance, but that he would follow-up with the city’s code enforcement.
The adopted resolution of denial was to appear before the City Council at its June 11 meeting. (A recap of that council meeting will be posted on Patch in the coming days.)
The next Cerritos Planning Commission is scheduled for Wednesday, June 20 at 7 p.m.