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Councilmember Todd Gloria appeared before San Diego's planning commissioners on Thursday on behalf of a new city ordinance that would protect small neighborhood markets by making it more difficult for mega-retail stores exceeding 90,000 square feet to open in the city.

The ordinance requires big-box retailers, such as Super Walmart and Super Target, to add to their cart during checkout an economic analysis that would determine how a mega-retailer would impact local businesses.

Last June, the Land Use and Housing Committee directed the city attorney's office to draft an ordinance. Now drafted, the ordinance was presented to the planning commissioners at their October 7 meeting without the development services department having had the opportunity to vet the ordinance. City council is expected to hear the item during a November 16 meeting.

"A number of studies have documented the potential for big-box superstores that also sell groceries to undermine the usability of local commercial centers, increase traffic levels, and increase the potential for neighborhood blight," testified Gloria to the planning commission.

Gloria and other proponents of the ordinance say the measure would drive down the price that the small neighborhood businesses has been paying in competing with the big-box retail centers, while opponents feel the ordinance is anti-business and pro-union and was pushed through without proper review.

"I can't help wonder why the ordinance is being considered at all," said attorney Thomas Turner whose firm, Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves, and Savitch, represents Walmart.

"Prospective applicants would elect to pursue a project outside city limits," said Walmart's lawyer. "The proposed ordinance results in an outright ban on the stores."

After 12 public speakers — all but one opposed to the ordinance — the city's planning commissioners demonstrated their frustration that the item was put through the express checkout before getting development services department's approval.

"We are basically being told that it doesn't matter, this is moving on, and I am offended by that," said planning commissioner Robert Griswold, who earlier in the meeting admitted to owning stock in Walmart and Costco.

Councilmember Gloria responded to the commissioner's concerns: "This is a new form of government (strong-mayor system), where the legislative branch does not have the same relationship with the development services staff that we once did."

After other planning commissioners expressed their frustration and anger, they unanimously passed a motion encouraging the council to submit the ordinance to the city's development services department before the council hears the issue.

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Comments

magicsfive Oct. 9, 2010 @ 4:03 p.m.

nah poff, that's just the stank of wal-mart. you can smell it for miles.

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DX Oct. 9, 2010 @ 6:58 p.m.

Oh, that is so sad. The big international mega corporation doesn't have an easy time of it in San Diego. Wall Mart does have at least one location here. I understand they have a total of two locations for local shoppers to enjoy the fantastic price roll backs. Their current stores here are not big enough? Personally, I'd rather patronize a store that hasn't sold it soul to the stock market.

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Founder Oct. 10, 2010 @ 7:17 p.m.

$TRONG Mayor + Big Business Donations = GREEDY Projects!

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wmstmas Oct. 11, 2010 @ 10:38 a.m.

Who is the city trying to help? Not the citizenships San Diego. If people don't want to shop at Super Walmart let them decide. I now have to drive to East Lake (Chula Vista) to shop at a Super Walmart. No tax dollars for SD!

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a2zresource Oct. 11, 2010 @ 12:30 p.m.

I do like the Wal-Mart in College Grove... AND if there is a sales tax increase in San Diego AND state legislation on CCDC taking that tax increase in a tax increment cap raise actually becomes law THEN I'm still shopping in College Grove.

Now, if only Wal-Mart was selling 45-watt solar panels at less than $149.99...

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Founder Oct. 11, 2010 @ 3:57 p.m.

Reply #5 RE: "Who is the city trying to help?" ....Think the many instead of the Few, or in this case the ONE...

BTW: Only one comment since joining in 2008, that's strange...

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David Dodd Oct. 11, 2010 @ 5:45 p.m.

I don't do much shopping at Walmart (yes, they have them here in Baja). I enjoy patronizing small stores because they often have better produce and meat. It isn't because I have some obligation to support local small business, because I do not. No one is obligated to do that. Passing ordinances to support such an obligation is frighteningly shallow and smacks of protectionism; it is economically unsound.

Imagine the time when people rode horses and horses pulled buggies. Someone came up with the idea for the automobile. Eventually, it put the buggy whip manufacturers out of business. I reckon that we would still have buggy whip manufacturers if only the cities would have passed ordinances that prohibited the selling of automobiles.

But the people who once manufactured buggy whips survived. Some went into business manufacturing upholstery, others selling hand-cranks, and so on. This is called creative destruction. Horses made themselves useful in other ways, and so did the people who once manufactured buggy whips.

There are plenty of things that can't be purchased at Walmart and many services that can be provided better than does Walmart. If small business needs to be protected from Walmart, then small business is a loser and doesn't deserve the protection.

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a2zresource Oct. 12, 2010 @ 8:39 a.m.

Isn't it standard procedure at various redevelopment corporations and agencies in this county to refer to all small neighborhood stores in town, not owned by large corporations with Supreme Court-approved no-limit political advertising dollars, as "blight"?

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cinnamon Nov. 19, 2010 @ 11:12 a.m.

I relocated to San Diego in '2008 from Orlando, FL where there is a Walmart Superstore on every corner. In my opinion, bringing these stores to San Diego will bring along with it a host of major problems such as crime in the parking lots, traffic congestion, etc.

Walmart's idea of parking lot security in their 24 hour stores is to have a financially struggling 75 yr. old retiree patrol the lot in a vehicle while he offers to escort people to their cars while outside the store entrance there are small gangs hanging out at 3 a.m. from who knows where!

Furthermore, I guaranty you that it will negatively effect small business. They will not be in business anymore.

Additionally, let me address the argument of Walmart bringing to the community cheap groceries and jobs.

After the opening of these stores the food is not that cheap except for processed box foods such as Hamburger Helper, Walmart bakery bread and frozen food items.

I found that the meats, fish, produce, and other items were more expensive than or equally expensive as the prices offered by the major quality grocery store chains in the Orlando area such as Publix. Not only that; but, the quality is inferior especially the deli.

Price rollbacks are no different than the sales offered by any grocery store chain such as Von's or Ralph's. Let's not forget these rollbacks are not permanent.

And let us not forget the other problems associated with these stores such as cheap labor, imported goods from China, etc.

In fact I do not understand how we are crying about outsourcing of jobs to China and then want to support the chain of stores that makes it's profits on the backs of slave labor and the loss of your manufacturing jobs!

Job creation? What kind of jobs! Low paying retail jobs that will not allow a man or woman to support a family on a living wage; especially not in San Diego! In Orlando, these people will be working a minimum of one other job in order to supplement their low full-time Walmart wages!

Why is the mayor threatening to veto this ordinance? I would be willing to bet it's because of additional tax revenue to help offset the city's budget woes. This is not the answer if you want to maintain quality of life in our San Diego communities.

Please do not become another Orlando where campaign contributions to the power brokers rule the day!

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SurfPuppy619 Nov. 19, 2010 @ 1:21 p.m.

Why is the mayor threatening to veto this ordinance? I would be willing to bet it's because of additional tax revenue to help offset the city's budget woes

You nailed it-SALES TAX!

They will give away billions in property tax rebates in order to get a few million in sales tax.

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