Home » OPINION: Repeal of ‘Big Box’ threatens regional sustainability
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OPINION: Repeal of ‘Big Box’ threatens regional sustainability

The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) opposes the proposed repeal of the Superstore Ordinance.  The mission of ECOS is “to achieve regional and community sustainability and a healthy environment for existing and future residents.” We believe our mission is consistent with the city’s New Growth Section’s mission: 

Through quality relationships with all stakeholders, the New Growth Section will direct new development consistent with the vision of the City, will finance and build the necessary infrastructure and community facilities, consistent with financing plans, and nurture community organizations.

and it’s intended legacy:

Creation of diverse, mixed use, smart growth communities empowered to sustain healthy
neighborhoods.

ECOS believes that the proposed repeal is antithetical to these goals. We also believe that this change is intended primarily for the benefit of one corporation—Wal-Mart. Reasons for opposing repeal include, but are not limited to:

  • Impact on the local economy: more superstores would only serve to undermine efforts to revive such areas as Del Paso, Stockton, and Franklin Boulevards and contribute to blight. Additionally, superstores generate more miles driven by customers, which mean increased air pollution. 
  • Wal-Mart’s many unsustainable practices, including: only four percent of energy from renewable sources, compared to much higher rates of usage by its competitors; international outsourcing of 80% of non-perishable goods, which, in turn means outsourcing of pollution. Studies have shown that low pricing leads to shorter useful life of products, which in turn means more “stuff” going to landfills. 
  • Business practices that squeeze the last possible dollar throughout the supply chain; with the expansion of Walmart into the grocery business this means continuing pressure on Bel-Air, Raley’s and Nugget markets; to the extent that Walmart secures locally grown food, its “bigger is better” model puts extreme pressure on small and medium–size producers. We believe that these practices are at cross-purposes with Sacramento’s Farm to Fork initiative as well as the vision of SACOG’s Rural-Urban Connections Strategy.
  • The many claims made by supporters of the repeal are long on rhetoric and short on specifics; studies show that depending on the circumstances the many claimed benefits do not stand up under scrutiny and are frequently more than offset by the unmentioned costs to the community. 

With the recent gutting of redevelopment agencies, and pressure building to change CEQA, this is no time for the city council to be weakening the tools at its disposal to ensure that the ‘vision of the city’ is realized.  Additionally, the suggested reliance on
discretionary review on a case-by-case basis is an open invitation to abuse.

To the extent that there are problems with the existing ordinance, it should revised to strengthen it, while at the same time addressing any of the valid complaints.  Elimination of this ordinance is not in the long-term interest of the City of Sacramento.  

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