Councilmember Jay Schenirer is calling on city staff to scrap the latest revision of the superstore ordinance, which keeps the current regulations on superstores active in only two areas of the city: the grid and East Sacramento .
"I have a real challenge, personally, with creating a zoning ordinance like this, and then excepting two neighborhoods," Schenirer said in an interview Wednesday.
Schenirer supports the original version of the ordinance that was passed by the Planning and Design Commission on May 29, which removes the requirement that companies seeking to build a "superstore" first conduct an Economic Impact Analysis, or a detailed report on the effect the store would have on the local economy and other businesses. Under current city code, the EIA is required for any proposed store with over 90,000 square feet with more than 10 percent of its space dedicated for groceries. The requirement does not apply to stores with membership programs, like Costco.
Under the new proposal, the city could still require that a company seeking to build a superstore to conduct an EIA, since the store would still need a conditional use permit, but it would be up to city staff to determine whether or not an EIA or other analysis was necessary.
However, after an outcry from neighborhood groups in Midtown and East Sacramento, city staff revised the ordinance so that the EIA would still be required for stores seeking to locate in those neighborhoods.
Schenirer believes that the city shouldn’t create an ordinance that applies to some neighborhoods but not others.
"I’m asking staff to look at thinking about other language that might show us where we can locate stores of that size, rather than saying it’s ‘OK, except for these neighborhoods,’" he said.
Scott Mende, the city’s New Growth Manager, said that changing the ordinance so that the EIA requirement was based on a criteria rather than a specific geographic area would be difficult.
"That’s obviously a lot more challenging,” he said. "It’s easier to draw a line rather than come up with criteria that work in all circumstances."
The Marshall School/New Era Park Neighborhood Association and East Sacramento Preservation remain opposed to the ordinance, despite the latest changes exempting their neighborhoods. Union groups, such as Sacramento Central Labor Council, are also opposed to the ordinance, but business groups, like the Metro Chamber or Regional Builders, are strong supporters.
Mende said that Schenirer’s concerns might mean that the city needs to rethink the ordinance, again.
"Obviously, I’m sensing that there is not a consensus here, we have not arrived at a compromise that is making everybody happy, so back to the drawing board," Mende said.
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