Several Oregon communities are hindering Wal-Mart’s growth. The retailer wants to open new stores in ten locations around the state, but has been blocked in two communities and is facing organized opposition in at least five more.
In Hillsboro, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to reject a proposed supercenter. Hundreds of residents turned out at public hearings to argue the store would inundate the area with traffic and harm nearby neighborhoods. Wal-Mart tried unsuccessfully to counter the opposition by hiring a public relations firm and mailing slick fliers to every household in the county.
In Oregon City, the Planning Commission has also voted to reject a supercenter. Opponents, which included neighborhood groups and members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, said the store would undermine the town’s quality of life and eliminate living wage jobs. The Commission agreed, with one member noting, “This plan, while perhaps giving us another place to shop for low-cost trinkets, will come with a large price for our community: traffic congestion, minimum wage part-time jobs and a dilution of profits to the current retailers.”
In both Oregon City and Hillsboro, Wal-Mart plans to appeal the decisions.
Meanwhile, in Lebanon, an opposition group has appealed to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals to overturn a decision by the city council to approve a supercenter. The opposition includes a citizen group, as well as the owners and employees of two independent grocery stores, which pay $13 to $14 an hour, more than double what Wal-Mart workers earn.
As this Bulletin has previously reported, citizens in Hood River have so far blocked plans by Wal-Mart to open a supercenter on the edge of town. Wal-Mart also faces opposition in La Grande, Salem, and Central Point.