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Tuesday, December 19, 2006 

No Happy Trails for Whole Foods in Burbank

Oh, come on. I love Whole Paycheck...I mean Foods, but they should really find another place to house their store in "the Rancho"
When a community rises up against the specter of a behemoth retailer in its midst, that store tends to be a purveyor of cheap toys, discount hardware, or 30-roll bundles of toilet paper, not Chilean sea bass, endive and fresh-baked scones.

But an unusual neighborhood just north of central Los Angeles is waging an equally uncommon battle against Whole Foods, the upscale grocery chain based in Texas.

...The community, known locally as the Rancho, is a smattering of horse properties just north of Griffith Park, in a historically working-class area of Burbank that has been gentrifying.

Behind these far-from-sprawling ranch homes — the average is about 1,200 square feet, or about 100 square meters — are horses in tiny stables whose owners are wont to saunter on horseback through the residential streets and onto the Griffith Park trails each day.

...the Rancho is one of the few places in the heavily urbanized Los Angeles area zoned for horses, which dozens of homeowners in the area board and ride. Along the quiet suburban blocks, it is not uncommon to see a hitching post in a front lawn, or a rider trotting through the drive-through lane at the Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop.

...This spring, developers proposed building a Whole Foods store on Main Street, the neighborhood's main thoroughfare, on a 177,000-square-foot lot that houses a television caption company. The proposal sparked the ire of some Rancho residents, who anticipated a surge in traffic that would, among other things, spook their beloved horses. - International Herald Tribune
and the New York Times and City Beat

The company should try saving the character of our towns in our country. You know, it's not like there are no other Whole Foods around. There's a fairly new one in Glendale, and in Sherman Oaks...and others nearby.

Maybe they could compromise with a smaller size building designed to look and fit well with the adjacent land and property, and put up tie posts and offer free oats to the horses outside. I'm not joking. It's called adapting to the environment.

Dear Fletch,
That would be great! You're right on target - adapting to the community would be wise.
However, I can tell you that Whole Foods has made it clear that it will not build any future stores less than 60,000 sq ft. They do not make their money that way (I believe this is a quote from another article) and the developer stands to make a financial windfall based on the number of customers (who drive on the surrounding sensitive streets). The people in opposition care only about the Burbank Community: horses and people alike.

I've been a long time fan of Whole Foods Market, Inc. (Nasdaq WFMI), the largest distributor of organic food products in America. What I like best about the company is that it provides organic products that are certified organic, meaning the fruits and vegetables they sell are grown under stricter guidelines than your average farmer's market. Of course, it comes at a price and Whole Foods is facing an identity crisis.

Many of the entrepreneurial farmers who initially worked with Whole Foods were small family owned farms, plowed by your local farmer. They were startups - sans venture capital. The original organic farmers were hippies from Santa Cruz and dropouts from Berkeley who wanted to go back to the land, kind of like your average disillioned tech geek today who dreams of launching a multibillion social networking company. Many of them moved to the Salinas Valley to drop acid while others moved to plow the land. However, over the last 30 years, organic has gone from hippie to yuppie to mainstream. I've always liked organics, but companies like Whole Foods now face a big challenge: How to convince its customers that its not selling out of its original roots as a single store in New Orleans featuring wholesome food that works with entrepreneurial growers to bring great unique foods to your kitchen table.

Is Whole Foods Selling Out the Local Organic Farmer?

I live just 12 houses away from this proposed whole foods. An increase in traffic would increase the danger to the elementary school children going to school across the street from the new large store and increase a risk to the horses. Horse and car collisions end in a high human fatality with the nearest trauma center being in Northridge. Sure, they could move, but there are plenty of places in LA to move where there AREN'T horses. Why race towards looking like New York if we don't have to?

yprjqgfkanonymous is incorrect. the nearest trauma center is in burbank and he/she could walk from main & alameda.
i'm not sure where the "race to new york" comment is coming from. everyone here calls it mayberry

Sure, everyone here calls in Mayberry...now...but wait until they park 60,000 sq ft of building on that corner and add 5,000 more cars a day to that Alameda & Main intersection. It won't be called Mayberry no more...

I am amazed at some of the respondents' comments. It sounds like we are talking about putting a WalMart superstore into this area! Whole Foods customers tend to be quite a bit more selective in their consumer choices. I find it interesting that AAA has a large office in the area and has more to do with autos than horses. I would be interested in the history behind that business moving in as well as how Pavillons made inroads in the neighborhood. After all, there always have been other supermarkets located away from the horse community, so what was the need with allowing Pavillons and the traffic it brings? And speaking of the horse community, I wonder if they would prefer Boot Barn or an equestrian superstore in the proposed space. Congratulations to the horse-owners, however, for getting their piece of heaven secure. I suspect that Whole Foods is probably courting those who work in the entertainment industry. Hopefully when NBC moves to Universal City there will be something in that location for Whole Foods to ponder.

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