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It took the San Diego City Council only six months to pass an ordinance that would restrict some of Walmart’s biggest stores. That was considered fast.

But it only took Walmart two months to force them to take it back.

On Tuesday, the City Council repealed the ordinance after Walmart collected an estimated 42,000 valid voter signatures, forcing the council either to call a special election and let voters decide the issue or repeal it instead. The council voted 7-1, with Marti Emerald opposing the repeal.

The Union-Tribune’s story on the vote offered some context:

The city is home to four of the county’s 18 Walmarts, but a majority on the City Council has long been opposed to supercenters. A ban on supercenters was approved and then quickly reversed in 2006 before the current supercenter ordinance was adopted two months ago.

Walmart hasn’t announced any plans to build a store that would have been affected by the ordinance, which regulated stores larger than 90,000 square feet that sell groceries.

But last week the company did say it planned to build about 12 new stores in the city in the next five years, and said it would build in neighborhoods without access to affordable groceries.

It has said it wants to build in the council district covering southeastern San Diego, the area represented by Council President Tony Young. The district has only one major grocery store. Pastors from Young’s district pressured him to oppose the ordinance, but he ultimately voted in favor of it.

On Tuesday, Young withdrew that support, voting to repeal the ordinance because he said the city could not afford upwards of $3 million for a special election.

Please contact Adrian Florido directly at adrian.florido@voiceofsandiego.org or at 619.325.0528 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/adrianflorido.

Adrian Florido

Adrian Florido is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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