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Council President Scott Peters, considered to be the swing vote, said he was “pretty sympathetic” to the proposed ban on large-scale retailers that sell groceries but has not made up his mind.

The proposal would effectively ban Wal-Mart Supercenters from setting up shop within the San Diego city limits. The council is expected to vote on the issue Oct. 23.

Four council members – Toni Atkins, Tony Young, Donna Frye and Ben Hueso – asked to schedule a vote on the so-called SKU ordinance and have at the very least hinted at their support for the ordinance. If approved, the ordinance would ban stores that are at least 90,000 square feet, sell more than 30,000 items and garner 10 percent of their sales from grocery receipts. (It is called the SKU ordinance because a store would not be allowed to offer more than 30,000 different bar codes – or “store keeping units.)

Councilmen Kevin Faulconer, Brian Maienschein and Jim Madaffer said they oppose the measure.

The vote has fallen along party lines, with Democrats supporting the ban and Republicans opposing it. Peters – a moderate Democrat – is thought to be the swing vote. Five votes are needed for the SKU ordinance’s passage.

At his weekly press briefing, Peters said he would not be deterred by Mayor Jerry Sanders’ threat to veto a ban on big-box grocers and said he didn’t believe that the dispute was labor-versus-business, as some have painted it.

The council president said that the backlash he has seen against proposed Wal-Marts in Carmel Valley and Rancho Penasquitos – two fairly conservative suburbs in Peters’ district – has convinced him that residents aren’t always keen on traffic impacts of the big-box stores.

“A lot of cities are concerned with the land-use implications of concentrating that much traffic in one place,” Peters said.

EVAN McLAUGHLIN

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