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KPFA Morning Show Wednesday, July 7th: Bay Area anti-Wal-Mart Superstore campaigns

Living Wage Coalition Co-Chair Paul Kaplan and California Healthy Communities Network Executive Director Phil Tucker were interviewed by labor journalist David Bacon on the KPFA Morning Show today, Wednesday, July 7th. The segment focused on Bay Area anti-Wal-Mart superstore campaigns in the cities of Rohnert Park, Milpitas, and Antioch.

To hear the program click on the link below and scroll about one-half hour into the KPFA Morning Show.


by Ian Bauer, Milpitas
San Jose Mecury News

"The end result of our meeting tonight is the Walmart expansion is denied," said Mayor Bob Livengood to the hundreds of Walmart supporters and opponents who crammed into the Milpitas City Hall Council Chambers Tuesday night.

Milpitas City Council voted 4-1 June 1, with Councilwoman Debbie Giordano dissenting, to overturn on appeal Milpitas Planning Commission's prior approval to allow Walmart to build a nearly 18,500-square-foot addition to allow liquor sales, groceries and 24-hour operation at 301 Ranch Drive.

Months of debate followed by three hours of testimony from more than 50 speakers at the meeting culminated in applause after the council's ruling.

Appellant group Milpitas Coalition for a Better Community a loosely knit band of Milpitas and San Jose residents and labor representatives was formally opposed to what many in the group called Walmart's job-killing Supercenter that would destroy smaller local businesses, create more traffic, air pollution and crime and ruin the city's overall quality of life.

The local anti-Walmart group claimed the project's final environmental impact report and conditional use permit for the expansion should not have been certified, that the project did not meet the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act, and the project was inconsistent with state and local planning and zoning laws.

Prior to the council vote, Walmart representatives and Milpitas Coalition members were granted 15 minutes each to present their respective sides on an expansion that aimed to add to the southern portion of Walmart's existing 131,725-square-foot store, expanding the business to nearly 150,200 square feet.

"We are concerned that our community will be negatively impacted by this expansion," Arthur Balangue, a Milpitas Coalition spokesman and Save Mart employee, told the council.

Balangue said Milpitas was "already over-served by supermarkets" that sold groceries and fresh produce and added Walmart's planned Supercenter would kill jobs at other stores such as Save Mart. "The single fact is if this expansion is approved it will close down more stores," Balangue said.

Conversely, Walmart representatives said the Milpitas store was popular among residents, that it had been a community partner for years donating monies to the city and community groups since it opened here in 1994, and they urged the council to uphold the prior ruling.

"We were very pleased with the planning commission's decision and hope you will also vote for this small expansion and move this project forward," Angie Stoner, a Walmart spokesperson, told the council.

Stoner added the new store would provide a more customer friendly shopping experience with a deli, a bakery and fresh produce. She added the opposition's opinions of Walmart were based on perceptions: "And their aim is to keep out competition."

In addition, she noted that Target would soon open a "super store" a couple of miles away in North San Jose off state Route 237 that could potentially suck more sales tax dollars from City of Milpitas. Stoner said Walmart contributes about $500,000 in sales tax to the city's coffers.

"As the mayor and council, you all want to keep your tax dollars local," Stoner said.
But the majority of people who came to the meeting many wearing fluorescent yellow and green "Say No To Walmart" stickers on their chests said a bigger Walmart would be detrimental to the city.

"Obviously, this store will not pay good wages to anybody," Jose Garcia, a Milpitas resident, said. "There's no wealth, no good paying jobs here."

Opponents also said Walmart destroys choice and competition with its "predatory pricing" tactics.

"Maybe it helps some people, but it hurts a lot of us in the long run," Debbie Rankin, a Milpitas resident, said. Others cited crime as a factor.

"A 24-hour operation in a remote part of town is asking for trouble," Greg Reeves, a Save Mart employee, said.

Phil Tucker, a California Healthy Communities Network representative, said other Walmart Supercenter stores including one in American Canyon had dramatically increased crime in that area.

Speakers also cited inadequate pay to those people Walmart hires.
"This is about values, this is about wages and benefits and this is still the most expensive place to live," Brian O'Neil, a Service Employees International Union county chapter chair, said.

O'Neil added Walmart's project conflicted with the Milpitas General Plan and did not promote business retention.

Raymond Quebec, a Save Mart bagger, said Walmart's expansion would close businesses here and leave City of Milpitas more vulnerable and dependent for sales tax dollars from the big box retailer.

"As those businesses close, Walmart will be even more important to Milpitas," Quebec said. "We'll be forced to give in to whatever they need... I ask you to vote no' and keep Walmart small and manageable."

Walmart supporters many wearing white, blue and yellow "Walmart" stickers on their chests stated the store is inexpensive and convenient.

DRIVE (APN 22-29-016), MILPITAS, CA 95035.

WHEREAS, on January 26, 2009, Walmart Stores, Inc., submitted an application to the City of
Milpitas for an amendment to its current site development permit to allow for an 18,457 square foot building expansion, remodel of the exterior building fašade, installation of associated site improvements, replacement of existing signage with Walmart's new corporate branding, and an amendment to its current conditional use permit to allow for grocery and alcohol sales. The property is located within the General Commercial Zoning District and Site and Architectural Overlay (C2-S); and

WHEREAS, on March 24, 2010, the Milpitas Planning Commission held a duly noticed public
hearing on the Project's development application and approved the application, subject to conditions of approval; and

WHEREAS, on April 1, 2010, the Milpitas Coalition for a Better Community filed an appeal of
the Planning Commission approval. The City Council reviewed the application for hearing de novo and held a duly noticed public hearing on the matter on June 1, 2010 and considered public testimony and reviewed various written submissions and materials and the underlying record.

NOW, THEREFORE, the City Council of the City of Milpitas hereby finds, determines, and
resolves as follows:

1. The City Council has considered the full record before it, which may include but is not
limited to such things as the staff report, testimony by staff and the public, and other
materials and evidence submitted or provided to it. Furthermore, the recitals set forth
above are found to be true and correct and are incorporated herein by reference.

2. The project is inconsistent with the Milpitas General Plan as follows:

a. The project does not encourage stable and balanced economic pursuits which
strengthen and promote development, contrary to Policy 2.a-I-3.

b. The project does not promote a strong economy which provides economic
opportunities for all Milpitas residents within the existing environmental, social fiscal
and land use constraints, contrary to Policy 2.a-I-5.

c. The project does not promote the creation of a balanced economic base that can resist
downturns in any one economic sector, contrary to Policy 2.a-I-6.

d. The project does not provide opportunities to expand total employment in Milpitas
and promote business retention, contrary to Policy 2.a-I-7.

e. The project does not foster community pride and growth through sufficient
beautification of existing development, contrary to Policy 2.a-I-10.

f. The project would draw community, economic and business focus away from Town
Center and Midtown, contrary to General Plan.

1 Resolution No. ____

3. The proposed location of the project will be injurious or detrimental to property,
improvements, and/or the public health, safety, and general welfare. The project would
cause urban decay and neighborhood deterioration impacts that cannot be adequately
mitigated through conditions of approval.

4. Based on the foregoing findings and the evidence in the record, the City Council hereby
denies the application for Conditional Use Permit Amendment No. UA09-0002 and Site
Development Permit Amendment No. SA09-0003.

PASSED AND ADOPTED this day of June 1st, 2010, by a 4-1 vote


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