Wal-Mart says it has plans for a dozen new stores in San Diego - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Wal-Mart says it has plans for a dozen new stores in San Diego

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Wal-Mart plans to build about a dozen new stores in San Diego over the next five years, especially if the city repeals an ordinance that requires big box stores to evaluate their effect on small businesses, the company announced Thursday.

The announcement came as the City Council is poised to repeal an ordinance passed in November that requires economic impact reports from developers of big box superstores, like Wal-Mart.

Maggie Sans, the company's vice president of public affairs, said no building sites have been identified, but "it is our intent to serve the city of San Diego across the city."

The proposed stores would range from smaller neighborhood markets of 30,000 square feet to superstores, Sans said.

The company said building the stores would create 300 temporary construction jobs plus 1,100 new employees to staff the businesses. Minority and women-owned businesses would be included in the construction.

More jobs is "welcome news in San Diego," Mayor Jerry Sanders said.

"Wal-Mart's plans to invest in San Diego will create job opportunities for our residents, stimulate our local economy and provide badly needed shopping options in under-served communities," Sanders said.

It would be easier to fulfill the company's promises if the "Ordinance to Protect Small and Neighborhood Businesses" was not in effect, Sans said. She denied a quid pro quo, however.

The law requires developers and big retailers, such as Wal-Mart, to submit costly economic impact studies before new stores can be built that are larger than 90,000 square feet and generate more than 10 percent of their revenue from groceries.

Mayor Jerry Sanders vetoed the ordinance, but it was overridden by the City Council.

Earlier this week, the city clerk determined that the measure's opponents gathered enough signatures to force a public vote on the issue.

The City Council now has to decide whether to rescind the law or call a special election, which would cost around $3 million.

Repeal became the likely result when council President Tony Young became the fifth council member to support rescinding the measure.

Young has repeatedly asked for a Wal-Mart in his southeast San Diego district, which only has two major grocery stores.

"The fact is, consumers are getting the short end of the stick in my district," Young said.

Sans said she would not guarantee that Wal-Mart would build in the area, which includes Encanto, Lincoln Park and Skyline, but the company is studying potential sites.

Wal-Mart also said it would create charitable partnerships with area nonprofit organizations to help end hunger and develop a workforce.

Lorena Gonzalez, chief executive officer of the San Diego Labor Council, said the new stores will cause problems.

"Wal-Mart and its supercenters have a record of driving out small, neighborhood business, dramatically changing the character of communities, reducing property values, increasing traffic and blight, and displacing hundreds of middle-class jobs with minimum-wage ones," Gonzalez said. "San
Diego can expect the same disastrous results if 12 supercenters are allowed to open up here."

Labor organizers have long opposed the chain, which employs non-union workers.

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