On July 12, Save Atascadero—a coalition of local residents who’ve fought the move-in of the retail giant since 2006—appealed a San Luis Obispo Superior Court decision that had rejected their protests.
According to city officials, the appeal—even if unsuccessful—will postpone any action on the planned development until the spring or summer of 2014, at the earliest.
In June, Superior Court Judge Jac Crawford ruled in favor of the city, disagreeing with Save Atascadero’s contention that the city had violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by unanimously approving the development in June 2012.
Before the lawsuit and appeal, Walmart was scheduled to open in Atascadero as early as 2014. Walmart already has two stores in SLO County, in Paso Robles and Arroyo Grande.
CEQA requires a thorough review of potential environmental impacts in addition to setting standards for public participation. Save Atascadero alleged that the city failed to produce proper air quality impact studies during the course of that review.
For its part, the city claimed the issue wasn’t rooted in the air quality reports, but was simply an intractable difference of opinion on the potential impacts of the project.
According to city officials, the next steps in the legal process will be preparing a record of the previous court action, filing a brief to California appellate court, and, eventually, a hearing at the Second District Court of Appeal.