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This week, the city of Santa Ana passed a superstore ban, but in a different manner than the laws passed recently in San Diego and Long Beach.

In Santa Ana, if a retailer such as Wal-Mart wants to open up a big-box grocery outlet, the company must apply for a permit and study all of the costs and benefits that such a store would bring to businesses within a 3-mile radius.

Whereas the San Diego and Long Beach laws, which say that stores of a certain size can’t use a particular amount of floor space to sell groceries, were offered as urban planning remedies, the Santa Ana ban was explicitly passed because Wal-Mart Supercenters are notorious for paying lower wages than traditional, unionized grocers.

“These Supercenters directly affect our supermarket chains, where workers are being paid livable wages and getting medical benefits,” said newly elected Councilman Sal Tinajero. “These stores hurt our other businesses that treat their employees with dignity.”

Councilman Carlos Bustamante, the lone dissenting vote on the Santa Ana City Council, made a point that is often raised by ban opponents in San Diego: Neighboring cities that allowed the superstores would be able to reap the tax windfalls and new jobs that follow these behemoths.

“We’re in competition for jobs with other cities. If we pass this ordinance, they’re going to open up a Supercenter on one of our borders,” he said.

Read the full Los Angeles Times story here.

EVAN McLAUGHLIN

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