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VALLEY FOCUS | Sherman Oaks

Homeowners Seek Aid in Market Merger

January 30, 1998|TOM BECKER

The Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn. is the second group in a month to try to enlist the aid of the state attorney general to take moves to avoid a possible supermarket monopoly in the area if the merger of Hughes Family Market and Ralphs Grocery Co. is successful.

"If this merger goes through, Ralphs will have a monopoly on the market," said Richard Close, president of the association. "They will be able to raise prices at will."

Officials for Ralphs parent company, Yucaipa Cos., have called the possible merger a cost-cutting move that would allow the company to lower prices.

The Sherman Oaks homeowners group is the second association to contact Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren. In December, the Studio City Residents Assn. wrote a similar letter to him.

Close said he has met with officials of the Studio City association in hopes of forming a united front against the merger.

"Both Sherman Oaks and Studio City have a lot to lose," he said. "I'm not asking the attorney general to prevent the merger. I don't think that's possible. The goal is to have him exercise his power to the fullest."

Specifically, Close said, if the supermarket chains merge, he would like Lungren to require that Ralphs sell some of its stores in Sherman Oaks to avoid a monopoly.

Plans for the merger became known in November when Ralphs, the regional sales leader, announced the deal was awaiting approval by state and federal regulators.

Close said he is trying to schedule a meeting with Lungren.

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