Thursday, January 27, 2011
The world’s largest retailer says it's serious about expanding in the city of San Diego. And Walmart thinks the San Diego city council should seriously consider repealing an ordinance that would strictly regulate Walmart Supercenters.
SAN DIEGO The world’s largest retailer says it's serious about expanding in the city of San Diego. And Walmart thinks the San Diego City Council should seriously consider repealing an ordinance that would strictly regulate Walmart Supercenters.
Council President Tony Young today said he’ll put a repeal measure on next Tuesday’s docket. He plans to support it.
Walmart today said it wants to create 12 new stores in the city. Company spokesperson Maggie Sans said many of the stores would sell groceries, bringing fresh food to neighborhoods where grocery stores are scarce. Sans also suggested the 12 stores would create more than a thousand permanent jobs for San Diegans, not to mention about 300 construction jobs.
“The plan is part of our plan to do right by our customers. So Walmart is ready to move forward. The question remains: Is the City Council ready too?” she said.
Today’s Walmart press conference was attended by San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and three members of the city council. Last year the council passed an ordinance requiring Walmart to conduct an economic impact and traffic study before it can locate Supercenters in San Diego. Opponents of the ordinance called it equivalent to banning the Supercenters.
Supercenters are typically more than 100,000 square feet, and they sell groceries and pharmaceuticals... something Walmart discount stores don't do. San Diego labor unions, and their political supporters, oppose the supercenters which compete with union shops like Vons and Ralphs.
The council overrode Mayor’s Sanders veto of the supercenter ordinance. Walmart responded by gathering petition signatures, and reportedly has enough signatures to put a repeal on the ballot and demand a special election. Sans said the council should take the initiative and repeal the ordinance now in order to avoid an election. She added that repeal of the ordinance is not something they expect in exchange for their offer to build 12 new stores.
“We want to do this. But it is very difficult for us to do this with the ordinance in place,” said Sans.
It looks like Walmart will get what it wants. San Diego City Council President Tony Young, who last year supported the supercenter ordinance, said he will support a repeal because a special election this year could cost $3 million… money the city can ill afford.
Young added that his low-income district has not been served well by any major grocery stores. He hopes Walmart is serious about locating stores that sell fresh food in his district.
“The fact is, the consumers are getting the short end of the stick in my district,” said Young. “So if you’ve got somebody who’s going to come and provide these products for us to buy so we don’t have to drive ten miles to buy anything, then I’m supportive of it,” said Young.
He added Walmart has made no promises to locate one of its new stores in his district. He hopes the repeal of the supercenter ordinance will get unanimous support.