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1998-12-27
Huntington Beach, CA.Wal-Mart's Sorry Choice.

The Ocean View School Board is trying to "educate" the residents of Huntington Beach, CA with some simple lessons in Wal-Math. It seems the School District owns a parcel of land that was used for a public elementary school until six years ago. Now the School District is sharpening its pencil over a proposal by Wal-Mart to lease the land from the District and build a 130,000 s.f. discount store. The School District claims that Wal-Mart's rent will bring in $400,000 a year that the District could use for repairs and maintenance at other campuses. No financial analysis has been done that demonstrates the net impact of this project, once you subtract losses from businesses closed and devaluation of residential properties. The President of the School Board actually argued that Wal-Mart was a "quality of life" issue, because "the lease money from this site will open up our general fund money for educational programs." But people who live near the proposed Wal-Mart don't see the figures adding up. The real numbers were at the City Council meeting in mid-December, when more than 200 residents showed up to protest the loss of open space, the noise, and the traffic that Wal-Mart would bring. "This is not development, said resident Ellen Kleizo, "this is insanity. This is not appropriate. You would not want this in your neighborhood. We may not be able to put another school in there, but we don't have to put a Wal-Mart there." Last October, the Huntington Beach Planning Commission sided with the neighbors, saying the need to keep open space on this last undeveloped piece of land was critical. Wal-Mart real estate director told the City Council: "We know it's a very difficult decision confronting you. We understand the project has a potential for some negative impact. We're sorry that's the choice you have to make." The Hobson's Choice Wal-Mart is so "sorry" about is not the only outcome for this land. Residents hope that Wal-Mart will withdraw their proposal rather than risk lengthy public opposition. "This is just a little-bitty piece to Wal-Mart," resident Sheila Cools told the Los Angeles Times. "But to us this is all we have."

What you can do: Residents of Huntington Beach are in for a real education if Wal-Mart is allowed to locate in this residential area. The neighbors along Lisa Lane and Sterling Avenue see vacant parkland now. Ironically, it is a public body that is pushing a project that will seriously harm the residential investments made in the area. In the name of school children, the School District is promoting a plan that will hurt the families who live along the roadways leading to the site. For further information about this Wal-Mart project, contact Sprawl-Busters at: info@sprawl-busters.com.










 
 
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