San Diego restricts “big box” stores despite mayor’s veto
San Diego has placed extra restrictions on the construction of new “big box” superstores, such as Wal-Mart and Target, in the city in what supporters call the Ordinance to Protect Small and Neighborhood Businesses. In late November, Mayor Jerry Sanders vetoed the new law, but the council overruled that veto on Dec. 2.
The ordinance, sponsored by Councilmember Todd Gloria, requires superstore applicants to provide additional information about their proposed project’s potential effects on neighborhoods, local business districts, and small and neighborhood businesses as part of the city’s permitting process. It also requires decision makers to consider the impact the superstore will have on the area before it is approved, according to Gloria’s office. “This ordinance is necessary because various studies have noted the impacts of superstores on local economies, including impacts on neighborhood retailers and supermarkets, consumer choice and benefits, municipal revenues, land use and urban design,” Gloria said in a statement.
In announcing his veto, Sanders said the ordinance singled out one type of retail format for regulation “in a manner that is inconsistent with the city’s Land Development Code and General Plan.” “The council’s action sends the message that San Diego is not business-friendly at a time when job creation is critical and a significant amount of unemployed San Diegan’s need our economy to grow,” Sanders said in a statement. Also, Sanders said the large chain stores would just build outside the city limits, costing San Diego tax revenue.
Gloria said the ordinance would not ban superstores from the city but would just provide critical information to decision-makers when such centers or expansions are proposed. “Council District Three, like so many areas in San Diego, is home to unique small businesses,” said Councilmember Gloria. “Large retail centers may impact these shops, and I want to know those impacts before I approve their permits.”