San Diego's city clerk announced on Tuesday, January 25, that the petition drive sponsored by Walmart was successful in collecting the 32,741 signatures needed to hold a special election to repeal the Ordinance to Protect Small and Neighborhood Businesses.
The big-box conglomerate didn't waste any time after city councilmembers voted last November to enact an ordinance that requires super centers — 90,000 square feet or bigger with 10 percent of its revenues from groceries — to conduct economic impact studies for the neighborhoods that they choose to build in. Supporters of the ordinance claim that the impacts to local businesses after a big-box super center need to be taken into account before permits are issued. Opponents say the ordinance places a de facto ban on consumer choice.
Ever since the council's vote last November, those opposed have done all in their power to overturn the ordinance. In early December, Mayor Sanders vetoed the bill. Weeks later, during a special meeting, city councilmembers overturned Sanders's veto.
Meanwhile, Walmart officials sponsored a petition drive throughout San Diego, much as they did in Salinas and Contra Costa.
Now that the signatures have been verified, city councilmembers have an opportunity to rescind the ordinance and forgo shelling out $3 million for a special citywide election.
"Our city could use the added sales-tax revenue and the thousands of jobs super centers would bring," read a press release from councilmember Kevin Faulconer. "This council now has an opportunity to right a wrong.... Let's save our city $3 million and give consumers the choice to make their own decisions. The role of government should not involve telling San Diegans where to spend their money.”
The council is expected to debate the issue in the next few weeks.