Sprawl-Busters Newsflash Blog - Anti-Sprawl news since 1998.
Subscribe to Sprawl-Busters Blog Follow Sprawl Busters on Twitter
Occupy Walmart & Order Al's Books Movies Newsflash! The Case Against Sprawl Home Towns Not Home Depot Victories Your Battles About Us Contact Us  

recent news

List articles
by the month:

2018
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2017
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2016
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2015
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2014
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2013
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2012
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2011
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2010
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2009
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2008
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2007
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2006
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2005
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2004
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2003
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2002
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2001
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2000
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

1999
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

1998
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC


Search database by text:

2008-10-08
Lodi, CA. Wal-Mart Willing To Pay Fee To Help Restore Downtown

Wal-Mart is getting desperate in Lodi, California. They have agreed not to leave an existing store empty, and are willing to pay a hefty fee to the city to help repair some of the damage their proposed superstore will do to other merchants in the downtown. On July 27, 2008, Sprawl-Busters reported that Wal-Mart insisted its proposal for a new supercenter in Lodi was not stuck. But after six years of waiting -- who can blame residents for wondering why Wal-Mart keeps trying to have its way? After six years, Wal-Mart has yet to begin work on its proposed supercenter. On February 16, 2007, a San Joaquin County judge overturned the city of Lodi's approval of a Wal-Mart Supercenter. The judge ruled that the company's environmental impact report (EIR) failed to take into account the impact of other Wal-Mart stores and energy consumption. In response to a lawsuit filed by Attorney Steve Herum and the group Lodi First in March, 2005, the judge ruled that the city's EIR left out how the new supercenter would affect Lodi, given the fact that there are already two other Wal-Mart supercenters nearby. This Wal-Mart project was originally proposed in September of 2002, but was not approved until February of 2005 on a 3-1 vote of the City Council. After the judge's ruling, Lodi officials decided to charge Wal-Mart and its developer, Darryl Browman, a 'big box' development fee, which would run $4.50 per square foot, to offset losses that downtown businesses could face if the 226,868 s.f. supercenter opens. A number of neighboring communities, like Stockton, Galt and Elk Grove have all voted to limit the size of superstores. Stockton has voted to ban superstores larger than 100,000 sf. with major grocery store square footage. Lodi has resisted putting a cap on store size, because voters there rejected Measure R, a 125,000 s.f. cap in November of 2004. The proposed Wal-Mart supercenter would be built right across the street from an existing Wal-Mart, which would close. "We had a vote," then-Mayor Bob Johnson told the Lodi News-Sentinel. "Am I supposed to second guess the citizenry?" The city's "downtown impact fee" at $4.50 per square foot, would generate just over $1 million. Officials said this money would be used for new business loans, employee training, and other programs to help downtown businesses. Wal-Mart would also be required to compensate for the loss of agricultural land. City planners have suggested a "one-for-one ag easement" plan, in which Wal-Mart would have to preserve one acre of agricultural land for one acre of land converted to commercial use. Wal-Mart's plan was supposed to be reviewed this past spring by the Lodi Planning Commission, but no vote was taken. Wal-Mart claimed that it was not dragging its feet, but admits that it still has some site-specific issues to work out with the city. "We're not dormant ... we have a genuine interest in Lodi and we're doing everything we can to make this work," a company spokesman said over the summer. The city also says that it's not holding up the show either -- but that Wal-Mart's own growth plans are the key. "It's a corporate decision based upon profitability," a city official told the News. "That's what I understand the issue to be." Since June of 2007, Wal-Mart scrubbed more than 70 planned superstores. Superstore plans in Clovis, Chico and Selma, California were all put on ice in the past year. A Wal-Mart project in nearby Galt, California was also mired in controversy. Lodi continues to insist that Wal-Mart pay the city for damage to downtown businesses, and they want Wal-Mart to find a tenant for the store it will leave empty -- or to pay for its demolition. City officials also want to be compensated for loss of farmland that will be destroyed by the new supercenter. At the end of July, a Lodi official acknowledged that the city had a draft version of a final environmental report -- but had no plans to release it to the public until Wal-Mart made clear its intentions to move forward with the plan. "We're waiting for Wal-Mart," the Lodi official told the News. This week Wal-Mart will make its move. The Lodi Planning Commission will consider a Wal-Mart Supercenter proposed for Kettleman Lane and Lower Sacramento Road this evening. Wal-Mart and its developer, Darryl Browman, have apparently agreed to many conditions, including a commitment to make sure their existing discount store will not remain empty. Wal-Mart has to either show the city signed contracts with tenants for at least 50% of their "old" store, or sign a purchase agreement for the building with another retailer, or put money into escrow to pay for its demolition. In addition, the city expects Wal-Mart to either fix up old buildings in Lodi's downtown, or ante up $680,000 in fees so the city can do the upgrades itself, or make loans to downtown landowners. A spokesman for Wal-Mart told the Stockton Record, "At this point, we're just pleased to be in the public hearing. It is an extensive list, it has been a challenging process, but we're excited."

What you can do: The media reported last year that when Lodi started talking about fees, Wal-Mart began meeting individually with City Council members -- which is not ethical or legal. Wal-Mart got the green light in 2005, but because of the dogged effort of the citizens' group Lodi First, the store's plans were found "legally deficient." The city's proposed impact fee and agricultural preservation fee caught Wal-Mart by surprise. "Historically, Wal-Mart's policy is to avoid paying public costs of their projects," said Steve Herum, the attorney who brought Lodi First's case to court. City officials said the impact fee and agricultural preservation are measures they have already imposed on other commercial projects. "Everybody plays by the same rules," one Councilor said. After six years, the giant retailer has little to show for the time and money it has spent while stuck in Lodi. Readers are urged to email Lodi Mayor JoAnne Mounce at jmounce@lodi.gov with the following message: "Dear Mayor Mounce, the idea of building a Wal-Mart supercenter right across the street from an existing Wal-Mart store is pure folly. This kind of leap-frog sprawl may make sense to Wal-Mart, but it adds no value to the economy of Lodi. You open up a Wal-Mart superstore, and you cut sales and jobs at the Safeway or Food 4 Less. It's just a game of retail musical chairs, with market share shifting. Your insistence on impact fees makes sense -- but why not avoid the impact in the first place, and look for real economic development and better paying jobs instead? You have the chance as Mayor to lead growth, or follow it. Why not do as a number of other California communities near you have done: put a cap on the size of retails stores, and prevent this kind of frivolous proposal from happening again? Revisit Measure R with the voters. Wal-Mart admits that their current store on West Kettleman is doing fine -- so why create all these negative impacts? I hope the Lodi Planning Commission will reject the new plan, which is really the same plan Wal-Mart has been pushing since 2002. Don't cripple your downtown just to get a fee from Wal-Mart to help rebuild it. You can avoid the damage in the first place."










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

info@sprawl-busters.com
Strategic Planning ~ Field Operations
Voter Campaigns 
21 Grinnell St, Greenfield ~ MA 01301
(413) 772-6289