Opinion » Letters

Wal-Mart's on steroids




On May 28 Bloomberg reported that Wal-Mart Stores, the world’s biggest retailer, won preliminary court approval to pay as much as $85 million to settle 30 lawsuits that claimed the company didn’t pay employees for all hours worked. Meanwhile, under the leadership of the new Atascadero City Council majority, Wal-Mart has received nourishment to grow. 
This is no surprise, Councilperson Jerry Clay stated at an election forum in October 2008 that if you put the original Wal-Mart proposal in front of him (205,000 square feet) he would sign it. It was not enough that the ’08 council authorized staff to process the Wal-Mart/Annex applications at 146,000 square feet, which requires zone changes from the General Plan. At the January 27 council meeting this year Jerry Clay and the majority on the council asked Wal-Mart to consider going bigger with two additional pads.  
Wal-Mart accepted the challenge and the project continues to sprout from 21 acres (remember, only 10 acres is allowable for commercial at the Annex under the General Plan) to 26.1 acres. This is an increase of 24 percent of the overall size of site disturbance, necessitating a more significant removal of native oak trees.
The 146,000 square-foot proposal approved by the ’08 Council has grown to a 157,000 square-foot building, an increase of 11,000 square feet, or 7 percent of the building’s footprint. Additions include a drive-through pharmacy and a tire-and-lube department—both to impact local businesses—and the two added retail pads total 15,000 square feet on the corners of the property without restrictions on the types of use, which could be more drive-throughs.
Some of the Atascadero community took the ’08 council and Wal-Mart at its word that their development would max out at 146,000 square feet in synch with the General Plan. Now we are told by the city staff that it could go to 160,000 square feet. This would be equivalent to almost four football fields plus more than 17 acres for parking.

Keep your eye on the size: Wal-Mart likes big!

-- Lee Perkins - Coordinator for Measure D-08

-- Lee Perkins - Atascadero

-- Lee Perkins - Atascadero

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