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New Superstore Legislation Introduced in Sacramento

Sen. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, introduced legislation this week to require developers of big box superstores in California to file economic impact reports, his office announced today.

The bill is essentially the same as one passed but later repealed by the San Diego City Council.

It would require builders of stores with over 90,000 square feet of floor space to study potential traffic impacts and effects on small businesses before they obtain a construction permit. Membership discount stores that sell in bulk quantities would be exempted.

Supporters of the San Diego measure said it would protect small businesses and maintain the character of neighborhoods, but opponents claimed it unnecessarily regulated where people would shop and targeted Wal-Mart because it employs non-union labor.

After the City Council passed the ordinance last November, Wal-Mart sponsored a petition drive that gathered far more signatures than necessary to put the issue to a public vote. Council members then rescinded the law to avoid the expense of a special election.

In a news conference earlier this month, Vargas accused the company of pressuring the City Council much like the railroads did back in the 1800s.

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