When Wal-Mart Comes to Town

Sort of like the previous post, this story won't tell long-time SOC readers anything they don't already know: The "benefits" that Wal-Mart promises are often not as great as they appear.

It's a zero-sum game: When Wal-Mart sales go up, Target and Ralph's sales go down. It's no coincidence that Ralph's announced it was closing its Rosemead location right after the Wal-Mart supercenter was approved.

That's why in Rosemead, in the year after the Supercenter opened, tax revenue went DOWN. In that first year, most of Wal-Mart's sales were just coming from other Rosemead retailers. There were no spillover benefits from our supercenter because there is essentially no adjacent retail. Rosemead's supercenter was placed in a poor location that has no nearby retail and was never intended to hold retail. It had been designated as office space in the city's general plan for years.

That is why, as a resident, I had no problem opposing Wal-Mart, even if I was not concerned with its corporate practices.

Meanwhile, the poor planning meant that, as a planning commissioner, I had no problem trying to push Wal-Mart to be a good neighbor and live up to its promise of "no significant impact" on the adjacent residential areas.

The bottom line is, the Wal-Mart undoubtedly does have a significant noise impact on its neighbors. It took three sound studies and a lot of foot dragging by Wal-Mart, but now that part is indisputable. It is my hope (but not my expectation) that the new planning commission will hold Wal-Mart accountable. Make them fully mitigate their noise effect on their neighbors, by what ever means and at what ever cost necessary.

wal-mar coming to towne