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2005-07-15
San Bruno, CA. School Offer To Sell Land To Wal-Mart Just A “Ploy”

School officials in San Bruno, California learned a painful lesson this week when rumors began circulating that the schools had contacted Wal-Mart over a "surplus" piece of land under possible development. That rumor sparked opposition from several communities, where residents were angered by the San Bruno Park School District's move. But when the parties came together to talk about the supposed deal this week, the School District board proclaimed that the whole deal was just a "ploy" to find out how much the property would be worth on the open market. Right. Last month the School District sent a letter to Wal-Mart asking for a price offer on 21 acres of land near Highway 280. Now officials say they sent the letter so they wouldn't have to spend $25,000 for a professional appraiser to study the parcel. "There was no intention ever to sell to Wal-Mart," one board member back-pedaled. "Without costing the district any money, we just wanted to gain knowledge of what somebody would really pay for the land." But when the letter was released to the media, a firestorm ensued. During a public discussion period, nine speakers protested any sale of San Bruno school land to Wal-Mart, even though the board assured them their concerns were based on "misinformation." One resident spoke of growing up in a small Texas town where a Wal-Mart moved in and all the local retailers went out of business. "First the drugstore went and then the gun store," he said. "It took about eight years for all the stores to be gone." Another speaker said the nearby Tanforan Mall could be expected to sue San Bruno if a Wal-Mart was allowed to build less than a mile away from them after a $140 million remodeling of the shopping center. San Bruno City Manager Connie Jackson told the board she wanted to "set the record straight" that the "City staff and council have not discussed this and have taken no position," Jackson said. "We are neutral."

What you can do: All it takes is the shadow of a Wal-Mart to get local residents upset. In this case, was it simply a "ploy" to get a land appraisal done, or perhaps a first step in private discussions that the School Board would have with the current renter of the property, who has expressed an interest in buying the land? Once the 21 acres were sold, the new owner could turn around and sell or lease it to Wal-Mart. There may be a lot more to this story than the School Board is willing to disclose, but the public's right to know has forced the Board to try to deny its interest in a Wal-Mart supercenter.










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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