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State Assembly Passes Bill Affecting Big Box Stores

Ron Dauphin

A bill by Sen. Juan Vargas, D-Chula Vista, to require developers of big box superstores to file economic impact reports before they can build in California is on the way today to the governor's desk.

The vote today in the Assembly was 43-28, according to Vargas' office.

A similar measure was rescinded by the San Diego City Council earlier this year, after Wal-Mart gathered enough signatures to force the council to take that action or put the issue to a public vote.

The bill would require developers to file costly reports on how the stores would affect the local neighborhoods, from traffic to impacts on mom-and-pop businesses.

Opponents call it a de-facto ban on Wal-Mart and claim the company is being unfairly targeted because it employs non-union workers.

The legislation, both in San Diego and Sacramento, has been backed by labor interests.

Mayor Jerry Sanders opposed the San Diego bill, saying it limited consumer choice. But supporters, including Councilman Todd Gloria, said the reports merely provide information on how the stores will affect surrounding communities.

Like the San Diego ordinance, the state bill targets proposed stores 90,000 square feet and larger that dedicate 10 percent of floor space to groceries.

Wal-Mart was contacted for comment, but had no immediate response.