Oakland residents rally against plans for new Home Depot

Rallying and waving signs, a group of Oakland residents from different neighborhood organizations gathered in The Ridge shopping center next to a vacant lot where developers want to build a Home Depot.

This is a privately owned lot along Pleasant Valley Avenue in Rockridge.

"Home Depot is a terrible choice. It’s a bad thing. It’s going to be like arterial blockage in our neighborhood," said Kirk Peterson, the co-founder of Upper Broadway Advocates.

Organizers say a big box store would be a traffic nightmare. They worry about congestion, and parking.

Gail Cooper with the Piedmont Avenue Neighborhood Improvement League said, "We’re also very concerned about pedestrian cyclist safety. As it is now we can barely cross the street now. And we’re talking about an incredible increase in volume."

These neighbors want housing instead. They call this a perfect opportunity to build apartments or a mix-use building with units of affordable housing to address the Bay Area housing crisis. 

Casey Farmer with Rockridge Community Planning Council said, "We think this is a great site for housing for a number of reasons. It brings more people to the neighborhood which brings more shoppers to our local businesses. It brings safety to our streets. And we know we are in a housing crisis, and we need to build more units."

"I think it’s more likely that not that it’s never going to happen," said City Councilmember Dan Kalb.

Kalb said the Home Depot project has not been approved. He said they submitted a pre-application and an initial inquiry, but there could be issues with zoning.

"The city responded with a lot of information to answer questions and part of that response was a big Home Depot, a big box store, is not one of the approved uses here," said Kalb.

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Now Home Depot needs to decide whether to go forward with a full application or move on. Kalb said he’s open to talking with the property owner and developer about the best options for this site. Kalb said, "The most ideal situation in my opinion is a combination shopping center with housing on top."

Residents also set up a change.org petition which has over 4,000 signatures.