LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Two Southern California labor groups took legal action Thursday against a proposed Walmart store in Chinatown.

The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance L.A. (APALA) and the Southeast Asian Community Alliance filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles in Superior Court challenging the legality and process by which the building permits were issued.

The plaintiffs allege that the Department of Building and Safety overstepped its rights and violated city and state laws that require public approval of the permits when Walmart first announced in March 2012 that it would be opening a smaller scale “Neighborhood Market” in Chinatown.

The yearlong fight to block the retailer has successfully delayed the store from opening despite heavy political lobbying and charitable donations by Walmart.

A coalition of community groups have filed multiple appeals against the permits since when the store was first proposed.

Local residents and small businesses alike were optimistic that the lawsuit would prevail.

“The City clearly violated the law in approving these permits in the dark of night,” said Aiha Nguyen, Grocery Campaign Director with the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE). “Our case is strong and will objectively cut through the nebulous political approvals of the Planning Department and Walmart’s attempts to silence community. We believe we will finally get justice for Chinatown.”

Walmart spokesman Steven Restivo said in a statement that despite the opposition, the company is optimistic about its prospects, having already opened new stores in Panorama City, Downey, Bell Gardens, Altadena, West Covina and Torrance.

“In each case, Walmart is having a positive impact in the community and we expect the same result in Chinatown,” Restivo said.

A copy of the complaint is available online at LAANE.org.


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