Debate Over Construction of IKEA Continues


IKEA is one of the fastest growing businesses in the last decade, known for its easy to assemble furniture and other home necessities. To maximize their revenue, the company is always looking to expand the number of national locations. In California alone, IKEA has three locations: Emeryville, East Palo Alto, and West Sacramento. But these locations call for a lengthy commute for Dublin residents. Consequently, IKEA found an opportunity here. The land was bought in 2004 when the first proposal by a developer was made. Later, the land was sold to a new developer in 2016 and a new idea was proposed. As of today, IKEA has renewed that plan once again for 2018. They have since been contemplating with the idea of establishing its new store in the Tri-Valley.

This plan has quickly become one of the most controversial topics in the community. The majority of my neighbors frequently discuss the repercussions of such a decision. A strong opposer of this project, who has requested to remain anonymous, believes the allocated land should be “used for a high tech company, especially with the proximity to BART, to keep cars off the road and bring Digital Dublin identity here!”. Paul Reeves, the Deputy Store Manager at the IKEA group in East Palo Alto, and strong supporter for IKEA in Dublin. Unfortunately, he didn’t respond to the request for comment.

The city council has also hosted many forums as to if Dublin has enough infrastructure to possess such a gargantuan department store. At a recent forum, they discussed many community issues like traffic, housing, and whether IKEA should be placed on the ballot for the upcoming November elections. IKEA themselves have stated, “We are re-evaluating our current plans as to how we will bring these stores to the forefront.”

During the first session of the forum, the mediator asked the candidates running for Mayor, current Mayor Haubert who is running for a re-elect and council member Arun Goel, lf IKEA should be put on the ballot. Council member Goel stated, “when we look at IKEA, what it was in 2016 and where it is today, there were very substantial changes made to that project since December 2016, which I can say I’m proud I am the only one that could have made those changes…it didn’t mean I was about yes on IKEA or no on IKEA. It meant I was gonna do my best job unbiased. I’m absolutely supportive of it going towards a ballot, but that choice and discussion could have happened earlier with an advantage proactive conversation with the IKEA project proponents.”

Current mayor Haubert, who is running for re-election, states “I won’t say how I will vote. In fact, I’ll keep an open mind until I hear the entire testimony before us…We’ve received a lot of emails on both sides of the issue, people that are for it people that are against it, but I would agree that traffic is indeed the largest concern that we can have… so I’m going to take all of the items at balance and weigh the decision very carefully, taking into account all of the feedback I get through members of the community and from our legal team on where to go and I will vote according to what I think is the best for the city of Dublin.”

The final supposed city council meeting for IKEA was held on October 16th. In this meeting, Dubliners from the east and the west came to voice their opinions on this project. IKEA personnel also came to voice their judgment and a final proposition for this project. The head of IKEA USA talked about their purpose for why they chose Dublin to house their store and also discussed traffic, estimated revenue, delivery, and how they would ultimately profit the city. The council, Mayor David Haubert, Vice Mayor Melissa Hernandez, and council members Arun Goel, Abe Gupta, and Janine Thalblum, all expressed their concerns and questions to the IKEA statistical analysis group regarding traffic, delivery, and customer convenience.

Later into the evening, the community started voicing their opinions, with a total of 43 people expressing their concerns on mostly traffic and commute. Out of the 43, 15 affirmed the project and 28 rejected, almost a 2:1 ratio. Just for reference, the meeting was projected to end by 8 or 9 PM, but it was prolonged till 1 AM since all these Dubliners each spoke for roughly three minutes each.

After everyone spoke, Councilmember Abe Gupta shocked everyone by informing them about an email sent by IKEA a few hours before the meeting started. In that email, IKEA stated that it would file a lawsuit if this project is not approved. In addition, they have to keep the old 2016 plan for the project which includes the extra shopping area called the Glen. After hearing this the council decided whether if they should vote now at about 1 am or wait and plan another meeting. Also regardless if they say yes or no, there is going to be an IKEA because the council expressed that they do not want to have a lawsuit to deal with.

After much consideration and seeking advice from John D. Baker, the city attorney, they decided to postpone the decision to right after the elections. This final decision meeting will take place on November 8th at 6:30 PM.