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2005-07-26
Milwaukie, OR. Mayor Urges Mayor To Stop Wal-Mart Supercenter

Mayor Jim Bernard of Milwaukie, Oregon has a simple message for his friend Mayor Tom Potter of Portland, Oregon: Don't let Wal-Mart destroy our downtown. Mayor Bernard sent a July 8th. letter to Mayor Potter warning that a proposed Wal-Mart supercenter would be a "threat to neighborhood livability and small business development" in his city of Milwaukie. The Wal-Mart propoal falls on the Portland side of the border between the two cities, adjacent to neighborhoods and streets "we hold in common," Mayor Bernard explained. The site was proposed for a future light rail station and park and ride. "We have all invested time and money in working with our citizens to gain local support for these transit projects," Bernard wrote. The Mayor added that Wal-Mart would "jeopardize" Milwaukie's plans for the expansion of industrial uses in the area. "Milwaukie has been working very hard to rebuild its downtown and protect and enhance our taxpayers' investments in this community. We are researching the opportunities of attracting a full service grocery store in our downtown, along with mixed commercial, small business, and residential development." The Mayor warns that a Wal-Mart supercenter "just a mile from our downtown will have serious consequences towards those efforts. If businesses must compete with Wal-Mart, they'll choose to locate elsewhere." If a Wal-Mart supercenter is built on the border of Milwaukie, Mayor Bernard says, neighbors will "experience first-hand the negative impacts of increased traffic volumes, diminished neighborhood livability, reduced property values, and displaced local businesses." The Mayor ends his letter by stating the land use goals of his community: "The City of Milwaukie is open for business, even big box business, when they are remotely located from our downtown. Our goal is to create a thriving and lively downtown core for our community, through the establishment of smaller, locally-owned and operated businesses."

What you can do: How refreshing to see a Mayor speak out when his community is threatened by sprawl in another community. He is trying to protect his constituents. There is plenty of precedent in these Newsflash stories for such action: when Mamaroneck, New York passed a law to protect themselves from a proposed Ikea store in New Rochelle; when Raynham and Taunton, Massachusetts got into a lawsuit over a Wal-Mart on their border; when California passed a law requiring cities that "stole" a mall from another city to share the future revenues of that mall. All of this points out what happens when there is no regional land use planning. Cities and towns can plan their futures together, and together decide where to place certain kinds of land uses that have regional impact. Portland will welcome Milwaukie shoppers at the proposed Wal-Mart, so Milwaukie should have a say in what happens at that site. For now, Milwaukie is a symbol of what can happen in the absence of regional cooperation. Studies show that when Wal-Mart comes to town, it displaces sales at existing merchants. It's like a game of retail musical chairs. Mayor Bernard is right: Wal-Mart will stand in the way of a revitalized downtown in his community. He has every right to go to Portland public hearings to try to prevent that destruction from happening.










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

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