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2006-08-26
Kapolei, HI. Cap on Size of Stores Considered in Oahu

No big stores on the Big Island? The Chairman of the Honolulu, Hawaii City Council has introduced a measure that would ban "supercenters," which would be defined at a store larger than 90,000 s.f. with more than 20,000 s.f. dedicated to grocery sales, and more than 25,000 items. The bill was written by Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz, who told the Star Bulletin newspaper, "A superstore of that magnitude would definitely impact any local community." The measure has the full support of Kapolei First, which got its name from Sprawl-Busters. The group is opposed to a proposed 145,000 s.f. Wal-Mart store being reviewed in Kapolei. When Sprawl-Busters reported on this story July 1, 2006, a Wal-Mart spokesman told the newspaper, "Whenever we open a new store, we expect organized opposition." Carolyn Golojuch, a spokesman for Kapolei First, did not disappoint Wal-Mart. "Everyone with common sense knows that this particular intersection is just overloaded," she told the newspaper. "To me, it was getting out of hand." Dela Cruz's bill also has support from the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 480. Union spokesman Pat Loo said, "I certainly think we have enough of them (big-box stores) here. But we don't understand the entire impact. There should be some sort of moratorium at this time, so we can look at the impact on our island and our communities." Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi introduced the bill because of her concern about the potential impact on small businesses. The measure was introduced on July 20, and is currently in the Council's zoning committee. Backers of the measure say it it modeled on a similar ordinance in Turlock, California, which has survived two legal challenges from Wal-Mart. The chairman of the Zoning Committee says he is against the bill. "What this is effectively trying to do is prohibit a particular type of business. If people don't like Wal-Mart, don't shop there. But I don't think we should be legislating that people should not shop at a particular store, or that it shouldn't be allowed in a certain community."

What you can do: The measure introduced has nothing to do with telling people where they can, or cannot shop. Wal-Mart could build tomorrow is this bill passes -- but they could not build their biggest model. The issue here is not the "right to shop." It's about maintaining the scale and character of Kapolei. The bill as drafted impacts grocery stores only, but would let Home Depot or Lowe's build unencumbered. Many communities are going with a simple cap on the size of stores, regardless of what is being sold inside. The objectionable features of these big stores are scale-related: traffic, crime, impact on existing merchants, impact on residential property values, etc. The solution for Wal-Mart in Kapolei is to build an 89,999 sf. store, which they could, but will not, do. Most companies, when they see local officials trying to stop big footprints, would get the message that they should adapt their model. But not Wal-Mart. This is the arrogance of a large corporation that believes that it's way is the only way. Rather than negotiate with local residents,Wal-Mart continues to stir up trouble in paradise. For local contacts with Kapolei First, contact info@sprawl-busters.com










 
 
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