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California City Nixes Wal-Mart to Protect Downtown

| Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Nov 23, 2005 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

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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About Stacy Mitchell

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and directs its Community-Scaled Economy Initiative, which produces research and analysis, and partners with a range of allies to design and implement policies that curb economic consolidation and strengthen community-rooted enterprise.  She is the author of Big-Box Swindle and also produces a popular monthly newsletter, the Hometown Advantage Bulletin.  Connect with her on twitter and catch her TEDx Talk: Why We Can’t Shop Our Way to a Better Economy. More

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