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Neighbors Shocked By Walmart’s Partial Demolition of Iconic Building


Aired 4/18/12

Bulldozers took to the building six weeks after Walmart announced it would convert it into one of its stores.

— Residents of San Diego’s Sherman Heights neighborhood were shocked to find demolition crews demolishing part of one of the neighborhood’s most iconic buildings Tuesday.

Bulldozers took to the historic Farmer's Market building on Imperial Avenue i...
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Above: Bulldozers took to the historic Farmer's Market building on Imperial Avenue in San Diego six weeks after Walmart announced it would convert it into one of its stores.

Bulldozers tore down a corner of the nearly century-old Farmers Market Building on Imperial Avenue six weeks after Walmart announced plans to convert the building into one of its stores.

But several of the neighborhood’s residents said they had no idea the company’s plans called for tearing down part of the building, whose bright pink silos –- remnants of its days as a livestock feed warehouse -- tower over the neighborhood and are unmistakable from Interstate-5.

“I feel betrayed,” said Remy Bermudez, a neighborhood activist. “I feel betrayed by City Hall. I feel betrayed by Walmart.”

She said that at recent community meetings, Walmart officials had mentioned only plans to renovate the building and to tear down interior walls and the roof, but not the structure.

“They didn’t say anything about tearing the building down, ever,” said Esther Peretto. “They said they were going to use the space, which makes you think the building, not the land.”

In the 80s, the sprawling warehouse was converted into a market that housed produce and food stalls, mostly catering to the neighborhood's Latino population. But that market struggled in recent years until only a few vendors remained, and finally closed. Walmart announced it had lease the building on March 1.

As a crowd grew outside the chain link fence that now surrounds the property on Tuesday, an investigator from the city’s Development Services Department showed up.

Victor Nunez had come to ensure the demolition crew was following city permits. He said the company may well have permits that allow the demolition, but he couldn’t immediately say whether that was the case.

He said contractors are required to post their permits for public view. But there were none in sight, so he said he’d be back Wednesday morning.

Calls to Walmart’s San Diego spokesman and the contractor doing the demolition work were not returned by late Tuesday evening.

Activists planned a protest early Wednesday morning to try to stop future demolition.

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Avatar for user 'xians421'

xians421 | April 18, 2012 at 1:54 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

Remy, if you feel betrayed now, try working for those pigs.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | April 18, 2012 at 7 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

Why are people shocked?

Wal-Mart is well known as a parasite on communties, a corproate thug that puts its bottom line above all else, and a morally bankrupt hog that has no problem railroading people's neighborhoods in order to build one of their Communist Chinese junk peddling air-hangar style madhouses.

Personally I haven't spent a dime in one of their disgusting stores for over a decade, partly because of their negative impact on communities, and partly because they sell crap.

My philosophy is I'd rather have a few quality items that are made to last and not made by exploiting sweatshop labour as opposed to a house filled with millions of cheaply made junk items that need to be constantly replaced (part of the genius of the Wal Mart plan - sell cheap crap and you will have to keep going back to buy more and replace it).

Defenders of Wal Mart base their main argument on capitalism - if it's what the public wants, then the public should get it without any scrutiny or regulation.

I find this argument absolutely hilarious because Wal Mart is **not** a capitalist enterprise.

If they were, they would simply let their products and their stores speak for themselves.

But they don't.

They spend billions of dollars lobbying government officials, and bullying local governments in order to get their way. **That's** not capitalism my dears. Spending your profits on shaping local ordinances and policies so they favor your business is **not** capitalism, it's bullying. Wal Mart did not get where they are today because of consumer choice, they got there by force and go ernment lobbying, something no small Ma and Pa shop has the means to do.

Not to mention this "beacon of capitalism" that right wing dopes like to defend sells a large percentage of their products as imports from Red China. I always love debating a conservative who thinks Wal Mart is American Capitalism at its finest and then see their reaction to their heavy Red Chinese reliance is brought up.

If Wal Mart disappeared tomorrow the World would be better off.

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Avatar for user 'nikkineel'

nikkineel | April 18, 2012 at 9:22 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

Is this project being funded by the SDBID thus the citizens? Why is Council silent on this? "The Barrio Marketplace in the Sherman Heights Historic District is closed for the Winter. Scheduled to reopen this June on 25th Street between Imperial and L Street. A community based small business incubator project funded by the SDBID Council."

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Avatar for user 'nikkineel'

nikkineel | April 18, 2012 at 9:26 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

so much for the "historic district". Walmart is saying the building is not historic...interesting since its smack dam in the middle of a historic district.

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Avatar for user 'nikkineel'

nikkineel | April 18, 2012 at 9:27 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

people dont get that Walmart receives over a billion dollars in tax payer subsidies. We need to demand an end to corporate welfare as well as new laws that kick Walmart out of communities if they violate permit procedures the way Walmart has.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | April 19, 2012 at 12:41 a.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

Nikkineel, you ask about the city council. I'm not sure if this is going to be a "super center" or not, but there was a city ordinance proposed awhile back that the council ended up backtracking on after bullying from Wal Mart and local conservative groups who support them.

All the ordinance would have required is a community impact study before building the **twelve** super centers proposed in San Diego, but Wal Mart brought out their thug bosses, political operatives, and endless money to quash it.

This is what I was referring to earlier in my other post, Wal Mart has become so powerful they can buy and lobby local governments into getting their way.

I agree with you 100 percent that **the corporate welfare must end NOW!**

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Avatar for user 'badicecream'

badicecream | April 19, 2012 at 8:51 a.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

This is also about two blocks from the elementary school on 22nd, and a huge portion of the traffic coming from the I-5 will shoot right down that street. There is already a new Albertson's within walking distance. No excuse, and no need, for this monstrosity.

Excellent comments from nikkineel and Peking_Duck_SD.

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Avatar for user 'badicecream'

badicecream | April 19, 2012 at 8:52 a.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

There is a petition, for what it is worth:

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Avatar for user 'Hardcover'

Hardcover | April 19, 2012 at 9:12 a.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

Nikkineel: I believe the Sherman Heights Historic District boundaries stop across the street to the North. The Farmers Market Building is just inside the Logan Heights neighborhood. But it does have stand-alone historic significance.

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Avatar for user 'no_soup_for_you'

no_soup_for_you | April 19, 2012 at 4:02 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

Walmart is raping our country. Stop these pigs now.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | April 20, 2012 at 11:31 a.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

If another store came in and sold better products for cheaper than Wal-Mart, we would not have this problem. Money is the bottom line. A person with limited money is going to shop where they get what they need for the least amount of money. Hate Wal-Mart all you want, but if you really want to stop it, then propose a better solution for people who can only afford "cheap chinese junk".

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | April 20, 2012 at 1:32 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

JeanMarc, did you not read the posts above?

prices are **not** the bottom line, power is.

Wal Mart and their defenders have done a good job selling the load of crap you just wrote, but it's all a lie.

Wal Mart is not as big as they are today because they sell the cheapest products, it's because they have paid lobbyist working around the clock for government preference, and they infiltrate themselves into local politics throughout the country in order to get their way.

They did it right here in San Diego when the city council wanted to require an impact report on a community before building a super-store.

They bullied and threatened and played politics until the city council, under thuggish pressure, withdrew the ordinance.

Such an ordinance could have allowed the public in this case to become aware of what Wal Mart was going to demolish *before* the demolition.

There are other stores that do have low prices, but they don't have all the lobbying power Wal Mart does and so you are incorrect in your assumption that any store offering cheaper prices can compete with them.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | April 20, 2012 at 1:58 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

But where would they get all this money for lobbying and bullying if their stores weren't packed with customers buying their products?

What I am saying is there needs to be an alternative. Sure, they can bully their way into an area, but they cannot force people to shop there. If there was a better alternative, then people would shop elsewhere.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | April 20, 2012 at 3:09 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

Does anyone have evidence of political bullying?
It looks here
as though they are pretty evenly split for party donations the last three years.

I agree that they mostly sell cheap junk not worth buying, and I don't shop there. If they bought the building though, they should be able to use it as they see fit, including replacing it. If the community thought the silos were more valuable then they probably should have bought them and paid for preservation. Maybe they can boycott the store and buy back the land later to rebuild silos if there is enough interest.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | April 20, 2012 at 6:26 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

JeanMarc, I see your point and perhaps Wal Mart did start out pulling in huge profits because of their business model and low prices. But at some point they decided that wasn't enough and they needed to begin manipulating government to gain advantage.

Benz, when I refer to political bullying by Wal Mart, I'm not talking about Wal Mart supporting a particular party, I'm talking about the billions they spend lobbying and buying government officials (regardless of political party) in order to gain advantage.

Democrat, Republican, Chinese Communist Government Officials - they don't care, thy will ally with anyone doing what they want and attack anyone not doing hat they want.

It takes place largely at the local level - such as city or town councils in regions they have fingered to expand in.

What happened here is precisely the type of thing a community impact stuy could have outlined ahead of breaking ground, but Wal Mart bullied our city council into dropping this requirement. And they do this in cities and towns across the nation.

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Avatar for user 'Studying_Nomad'

Studying_Nomad | April 20, 2012 at 6:36 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

Educate your neighbors and stop shopping there!

There are plenty of studies that show that Walmart has destroyed local economies throughout mid-west and more rural part of our country. Your biggest battle is convincing a consumer that the $0.42 savings is an illusion once you factor in the rest of the costs associated with the store.

From what Benz is showing, maybe they were bought and not bullied. Politicians being bought, now that’s something strange.

No soup: “rape” is a pretty strong word. No one is forcing people to shop there.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | April 23, 2012 at 7:33 a.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

PDSD, I expect attempts for regulatory capture and special consideration to be stopped not by the corporations that would benefit from them but rather by the ELECTED officials who should know that their job performance is regularly reviewed by an informed consituency. If we keep voting in people who will behave this way, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Let's clean this up the right way.... FInd the signature on the exemption, hold that person and their supervisor accountable and let everybody know bribery and graft are unacceptable to voters.
The answer to back-room deals is to open the window and let the light shine in.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | April 23, 2012 at 11:21 a.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

The fact is, if people didn't shop at Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart would not have money for this so-called bullying. Simple.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | April 23, 2012 at 12:54 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

And good idea benz72, if the community really cares about their precious silos, they should have no problem collecting money... right? Lets see if any of the people crying about this are willing to give even one cent.

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