California City Nixes Wal-Mart to Protect Downtown

Date: 23 Nov 2005 | posted in: Retail | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

The City Council of Santa Maria, California, voted unanimously to deny Wal-Mart’s request to rezone land for a supercenter. The vote took place before an overflow crowd of more than 200 citizens. Nearly forty people spoke at the hearing.

Santa Maria is a city of about 75,000 people, located just north of Santa Barbara.

The 55-acre site Wal-Mart wanted for a store is currently zoned for light industrial and is situated on the edge of town. In voting against the rezoning, City Council members pointed to the new Downtown Specific Plan, which calls for revitalizing the downtown and states that, in order to do so, the city must limit retail sprawl on the outskirts.

The city has recently approved some shopping expansions near the mall, but concluded that the larger Wal-Mart project was too much.

“I think we need to protect the businesses that made Santa Maria the city it is,” said Councilor Alice Patino. The council also concluded that the community would be better served by maintaining land zoned for light industry and higher-paying jobs.

Wal-Mart had sought to build a 200,000-square-foot supercenter, leaving its existing 135,000-square-foot Santa Maria store vacant.

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Stacy Mitchell

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and directs its Independent Business Initiative, which produces research and designs policy to counter concentrated corporate power and strengthen local economies.