LOS ANGELES -- Wal-Mart Stores suffered a blow this month when the Los Angeles City Council's Housing, Community & Economic Development Committee voted 4-to-1 in favor of an ordinance that would effectively keep any supercenter from opening in the city. Based on the recommendations set forth by the council on Dec. 17, Mayor James Hahn's office has 30 days to draft an ordinance that would prohibit retailers of more than 100,000 square feet of space with more than 10% devoted to nontaxable grocery sales in all city, state and federal economic assistance zones, or roughly 40% of land in the city.
In addition, the ordinance would place a one-mile buffer around the zones, making it nearly impossible for a supercenter to find enough land suitable for its construction. The ordinance would not include wholesale or membership clubs because they typically do not create as much traffic as supercenters do from daily trips to their grocery components, according to the mayor's office.
After another round of hearings and a final vote by the council, the ordinance could go into effect by spring. It is still possible that the council's recommendations could be overturned by the council, but not likely, said experts.
"This is not about Wal-Mart," said Eric Garcetti, chair of the committee, who voted in favor of the ordinance. "This is about what defines economic development and land use. We need to promote local businesses and small businesses."
Although the proposed ordinance does not single out Wal-Mart specifically, it was clear the Bentonville, Ark.-based giant is the primary target. Wal-Mart has said it plans to open 40 supercenters in California within the next three to five years.