On Wednesday, November 3, city councilmembers met to discuss a city ordinance that would deter big-box superstores from opening in San Diego's neighborhoods.
The Small and Neighborhood Businesses Ordinance, proposed by councilmember Todd Gloria, requires superstores to obtain a site-development permit from the city. The applicant would also be required to submit an Economic and Community Impact Analysis Report on how the big-box retailer would affect neighborhood businesses.
Councilmember Carl DeMaio asked a Walmart senior manager, Aaron Rios, if the ordinance would ban the company from opening stores in San Diego.
“That's the sheep's clothing piece of this proposal,” responded Rios, suggesting that the ordinance, if adopted, would likely discourage the company from pursuing new locations within city limits.
In response to the proposed ordinance, Walmart has been sending mailers to residents and councilmembers. District 7 representative Marti Emerald asked Rios why the mailers implied that the ordinance banned supercenters.
“It's essentially a ban,” said Rios.
Emerald then followed by asking if the ordinance was passed would the company close its doors on the stores already in operation.
“It is an option to consider,” said Rios, causing those in council chambers to erupt in laughter. “I do not mean to be threatening...but this is serious legislation for us to evaluate.”
Once the public had a chance to speak, councilmember Emerald said to Rios, “I also resent the fear tactics...the fear mongering by Walmart of sending out postcards of a not-so-flattering photo of me saying I'm against big-box stores.”
The council went on to pass the ordinance 5-3, with Sherri Lightner, Kevin Faulconer, and Carl DeMaio opposed.