Altadena, CA. Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market Upsets Neighborhood
Residents in Altadena, California are riled up over plans revealed late last week that Wal-Mart wants to construct a 28,000 s.f. Neighborhood Market in this community of roughly 43,000 people.
Rumors have circulated for months, but the story broke around June 21st. in the Altadena Patch. The proposed store will be located at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Figueroa Drive, where a thrift store once stood.
Altadena is located roughly 14 miles from downtown Los Angeles, just north of the city of Pasadena. The community is part of unincorporated Los Angeles County. The community describes itself as having "a rural country character," and the idea of a Wal-Mart of any kind has many residents upset. A recent poll by the Altadena Patch showed that 59% of all respondents said there was "Not a chance" they would shop at the proposed store.
A spokesman for the giant retailer told the Patch, "We think Wal-Mart can be part of the solution in the Altadena community for residents who want more affordable options close to home," said Steven Restivo, Wal-Mart's senior director for community affairs. "We look forward to creating a new option for healthy food in the community." According to the LA Times, Wal-Mart has announced plans to build 18 of these Neighborhood Markets in California, a rapid expansion of the small format stores.
In nearby Los Angeles, anti-Wal-Mart activists have been aggressively fighting efforts to put up a store in Chinatown, so the newly-announced Altadena location is just starting to draw negative attention. Wal-Mart told the L.A. Times that it assumes the Altadena store will not draw the same kind of opposition that their Chinatown project has created. United Food & Commercial Workers are planning a major rally for June 30th, with a target of organizing 10,000 people to turn out against the Chinatown location.
To build their case in Altadena, Wal-Mart issued a video and a fact sheet touting the economic benefits from the Neighborhood Market, including the claim that the project would "create" 60 or more jobs, and bring "more affordable fresh food options back to the community of Altadena."
According to Wal-Mart, after 14 years, there are roughly 200 Neighborhood Markets across the country -- still a very small component of the retailer's overall business. Wal-Mart is clearly hoping that the process in Altadena has been wired, telling the media that the Market could open in 2013.
What you can do: Because Altadena is part of unincorporated Los Angeles County, the Wal-Mart project will come before the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. Readers are urged to email Fifth District Supervisor Michael Antonovich at: FifthDistrict@lacbos.org with the following message:
"Dear Supervisor Antonovich,
The proposed Wal-Mart store in Altadena is not "neighborhood" scale, and is not an appropriate facility for a community trying to maintain its rural country feeling.
This project is not compatible with the Altadena Community Plan, which says that one of the major goals for commercial development in Altadena is 'to encourage commercial areas to develop desireably distinctive qualities in their design, appearance and operation.' There is no way that this box store can claim to be distinctive in design or appearance.
The economic and environmental impacts of this project should be thoroughly studied during the review process. This proposal clearly has neighbors upset, and the Supervisors should not just rubber-stamp Wal-Mart's proposal. It will not create new jobs, but only put existing local merchants out of business."