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Council Reverses Itself On Big Box Stores

Your browser does not support this object. View the original here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHNgyzh_Dd8

Video published February 4, 2011 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: Find out what changed to convince seven of the eight San Diego City Council members to discard an ordinance requiring Walmart and other retailers to submit environmental and economic impact studies before building here.

This week, the San Diego City Council reversed itself and repealed an ordinance to make it tougher to build superstores in the city. Walmart officials say the company wants to build 12 stores in San Diego within 5 years and led the fight against the ordinance. KPBS Metro reporter Katie Orr has been covering the story.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

THIS WEEK THE SAN DIEGO CITY COUNCIL REVERSED ITSELF AND REPEALED AN ORDINANCE TO MAKE IT TOUGHER TO BUILD SUPER STORES IN THE CITY. WAL-MART WANTS TO BUILD FIVE STORES IN THE CITY IN 5 YEARS. WE HAVE BEEN COVERING THE STORY, SO KATIE, IF THAT ORDINANCE HAD HELD, WHAT WOULD IT HAVE DONE TO DEFER OR DETER CONSTRUCTION OF SUPER STORES?

IT WOULD HAVE REQUIRED SUPER STARS, WHEN ECONOMIC IMPACT STUDIES BEFORE BEING BUILT AND THAT MEANS ANY STORE OVER 90,000 SQUARE FEET WHAT THAT GETS 10% OF ITS REVENUES FROM GROCERIES IS CONSIDERED A SUPER STORE. IT WOULD PROTECT BUSINESSES FROM A SUPER WAL-MART BEING BUILT. TARGET OR COSCO INCLUDED. BUT OPPONENTS OF THE ORDINANCE SAY THAT ONCE THE STORES DID THE IMPACT STUDIES THE RESULTS WOULD HAVE BEEN NEGATIVE AND THAT WOULD HAVE PREVENTED THE STORE FROM BEING BUILT SO OPPONENTS WERE CALLING IT A BAN ON SUPER STORES.

I REMEMBER WHEN HAD THE CITY COUNCIL PASSED THE ORDINANCE IN NOVEMBER AND IT WAS A 5-3 VOTE, THE MAYOR VETOED IT AND IT WENT BACK TO CITY COUNCIL WITH ANOTHER VOTE AND NOW THEY HAVE REVERSED THEMSELVES 7-1. WHAT MADE THEM DO THAT?

I THINK THEY WERE CONVINCED BY MONEY. THEY WOULD TELL YOU THAT. WAL-MART AFTER THIS ORDINANCE WAS PASSED AND THEN PASSED AGAIN BY THE CITY COUNCIL, WAL- MART SORT OF MARSHALLED ITSELF RESOURCES AND LAUNCHED THIS SIGNATURE GATHERING CAMPAIGN, THEY GATHERED ENOUGH SIGNATURES TO FORCE THE ISSUE TO A BALLOT MEASURE, THEY WOULD HAVE HAD A REFFERENDUM ON THE ISSUE. THAT LEFT THEM WITH TWO CHOICES. THEY COULD UPHOLD THEIR PREVIOUS VOTE MEANING THAT THERE WOULD BE A SPECIAL ELECTION WHICH COULD HAVE COST THE CITY UP TO $3 MILLION, THEY COULD VOTE TO REPEAL THE ORDINANCE AND SAVE THE MONEY. AND THAT IS ESSENTIALLY WHAT THEY DID. TWO COUNCIL MEMBERS VOTED TO REPEAL, AND TODD THAT AUTHORED THE ORDINANCE SAID IT WAS A DARK DAY FOR THE CITY, AND THAT WAL-MART WAS COMING IN AND STEAM ROLLING THE COUNTY. THAT $3 MILLION IN QUESTION, IT'S BEEN RAISED THAT IF THAT VOTE WAS TAKEN AT THE SAME TIME, THAT A STATEWIDE VOTE, THAT GOVERNOR BROWN WANTS TO HAVE ON EXTENDING THE TAX INCREASES. IF THAT HAPPENED AT THE SAME TIME, IT WOULD COST SEVERAL HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS. THAT IS RIGHT AND THAT IS WHAT STATE SENATOR JUAN VARGAS TOLD ME, HE IS SPONSORING A SIMILAR BILL AND HE IS, SAYING THAT THEY SHOULD HAVE LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE. TODD SAID THAT WHEN THEY WERE TAKING THE VOTE THEY HAD NO WAY OF KNOWING THAT GOOD THE STATE SPECIAL ELECTION WOULD HAPPEN. SO THEY HAD TO ACT A AS IF IT WOULD COST THE --THEY HAD TO ACT AS IF THE CITY HAD TO FACE A BUDGET DEFICIT.

WE WILL HAVE YOU BACK AND SEE WHERE THE STORY GOES FROM HERE. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

THANK YOU.

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