There’s been a lot of talk lately about Wal-Mart, “big-boxes”, and vetoes. What does it all mean? When you look at all the information in the media, it can get pretty confusing. Is the City Council pushing Wal-Mart out of San Diego? 

Perhaps the best clarification came from Councilmember Donna Frye at the last City Council meeting where this was discussed: Walmart is not leaving San Diego!

There are 18 Walmarts in the county of San Diego; Four of them within city limits. The Supercenter ban will not affect them. 

But, wait, what’s the Supercenter ban? I thought we were talking about Wal-Mart.

We’re not talking about Wal-Mart. The Supercenter ban prohibits retail buildings of 90,000 square feet with 10 percent of those square feet dedicated to grocery sales. Basically, it’s a superstore with a full grocery store inside. That is what’s really at issue. Walmart is pushing back because they would like to build Supercenters, and they would like for you to think this issue is about them because they can afford to print full-page, color ads in The San Diego Union-Tribune to express their views. (On a totally unrelated note, the U-T has been very supportive of Wal-Mart’s position.)

No, this issue isn’t about Wal-Mart, and it’s not about unions, either. This ban is really about protecting San Diego’s economic future. The Business Improvement District Council, representing 16,000 small businesses, supports this ban.

The City of San Diego has committed to creating a City of Villages, geographically concentrating housing, jobs, transportation, recreation, and retail.  City staff has worked closely with communities, developers, Sandag, and state and federal government to create urban centers. It’s the plan for San Diego.  Supercenters would derail San Diego from this plan.

These gargantuan stores — Walmart’s average superstore is the size of four football fields — threaten our neighborhood commercial areas because supermarkets are currently their anchors. When you go to your grocery store, you patronize other neighborhood businesses as well, like the local gift shop, dry cleaner or coffee shop.

When you stop going to their local supermarkets, you stop visiting the other retailers as well. As small businesses shut down, neighborhoods deteriorate. All the work that the city and the community have done to revitalize our neighborhoods would be undone.    

No, this is not a “union issue.” This issue is about you and your city. If you love your neighborhood, its character and uniqueness, you will support a ban on supercenters.

Opponents say Supercenters mean cheaper groceries. I ask, what price do you put on San Diego’s future?

— DIANA SPYRIDONIDIS

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