Nikki Garrett Metzger
High Desert Daily
(Victor Valley) – Several local city leaders, council members, and representatives from local business organizations came together Friday to publicly oppose senate bill 469. The Assembly this week approved the bill that would require that mega-retailers like Wal-mart and Super Target conduct economic impact studies before local governments approve proposals to build big-box outlets that sell both general merchandise and groceries.
The Senate previously passed the measure.
Ryan McEachron, mayor of Victorville, explained, “We all came together to ask the governor to veto SB 469 because it adds another layer of bureaucracy to an already complicated process for large retail stores – anything over 90K square feet.”
McEachron went on to explain that the requirement of an economic impact report, in addition to the already required environmental impact report, would add an even longer delay in getting projects like the super Wal-mart in the Dunia Plaza started. He added, “Its definitely not the right thing to be doing, especially in this economy. When you start to look at the impacts it can have, its a pretty big job-killing bill.”
There are several super Wal-marts in the planning stages or just about to get underway in the Victor Valley, including the new stores being built in Victorville and Hesperia, the new store that will be built in Apple Valley, and Barstow is working toward bringing a super Wal-mart to their area as well. There are several Super Targets planned too, including one in Adelanto, and one in Victorville.
“This bill takes away control from local government, and puts it in the state’s hands. They’re just attempting to try to control development of super Wal-mart stores and super Target stores,” said McEachron. “Potentially what can happen with these type of things once they’re signed into law is that they usually morph into other things. Stores that might come in that would be in excess of 90,000 feet, like a mall, could potentially be impacted as well.”
Labor unions and some small-business owners have supported the legislation, which now goes to the governor’s office for his signature — or veto.
“I think the underlying motive of the state legislature is to try and kill Wal-mart projects until they unionize their employees,” said McEachron. “All the grocery stores are already unionized so they want to make sure that if Wal-mart is selling groceries they’re union as well.”
“There are people who like Wal-mart, there are people who don’t like Wal-mart, but, regardless of that issue, its still jobs in our community. Construction jobs, and permanent retail jobs, they mean something. Especially in this economy with unemployment hovering around 20%,” McEachron said.
Now that the bill has passed, the governor has 30 days to either sign it or veto it. Brown has taken no public position on the bill.