LOCAL VIDEO STORE WINS MALL BATTLE\Blockbuster must alter plan.
In a partial victory for a small businessman, the Planning Commission has ordered Blockbuster Video to aim the entrance to its planned Westlake Plaza Shopping Center outlet away from a nearby independent video store.
Ernest Martel - owner of Video Depot, located diagonally east across the parking lot from the chain's proposed store - had charged that Blockbuster was deliberately trying to lure his customers by pointing its entrance toward his store.
He also claimed that the plan would create hazardous traffic in the parking lot.
On Monday, the commission agreed with Martel's traffic concerns and voted unanimously to order the giant chain to relocate its entrance from the east side to the south side toward Agoura Road, overturning a prior city decision that Martel was challenging.
"Obviously, I'm pleased that they were able to see the traffic that would be totally hazardous by facing the entrance on the east side," Martel said.
He believes that the move should reduce the Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based video chain's threat to his 15-year-old business by making Blockbuster's entrance less visible to his customers.
"Let's say that we're more on an even keel," said Martel, who had hoped that the commission would order Blockbuster to move to the west side of the center on Westlake Boulevard.
The Planning Commission approved the original plans for the 4,500-square-foot Blockbuster store in November along with an overall expansion and renovation of the shopping center.
Wally Knief, a spokesman for Blockbuster Entertainment Group, said Tuesday that Trust Company of the West, the owner of the shopping center, will appeal Monday's decision to alter the plan to the City Council.
"We have some expectation there will be a determination in four to six weeks," Knief said.