APRIL 2013 SAVE ATASCADERO UPDATE – 90 DAYS OR LESS TO DECISION

April 3rd, 2013 by admin No comments »

SAVE ATASCADERO UPDATE

APRIL 2, 2013

Contact us at info@opposewalmart.com or go to

opposewalmart.com or saveatascadero.com

P O BOX 1524, ATASCADERO CA 93423

(Please notify us of email address changes)

Editor:  Lee Perkins

VIEW PAST SAVE ATASCADERO UPDATES, AT

saveatascadero.com WEBSITE

SAVE ATASCADERO SEEKS RELIEF FROM COURT HEARING TO ENSURE CEQA STANDARDS WILL BE MET IN THE EIR REPORTS ON THE

WALMART/ANNEX PROJECT.

On TUESDAY, MARCH 19 the court case SAVE ATASCADERO vs City of Atascadero and WalMart was heard before Judge Crawford in Paso Robles.

WHY DID SAVE ATASCADERO FILE THE LAWSUIT?

The Atascadero City Council was in court March 19, 2013, in Paso Robles Superior Court, before Judge Crawford, to defend their decision to certify the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) of the Wal-Mart/Annex Project (The Del Rio Road Commercial Specific-Area Plan).

Save Atascadero’s suit asks for an environmentally sound development project that mitigates impacts and is safe for our community by seeking a resolution to the many unsatisfactory, unresolved or unmitigated significant impacts of the Project. The lawsuit was filed on Thursday August 9, 2012 in San Luis Obispo Superior court.

The following is a good summation of the lawsuit proceding in court.

City Awaits Judges Ruling on Walmart Project, March 22, 2013

Nicholas Mattson OF THE ATASCADERO NEWS

PASO ROBLES The lawsuit against the city of Atascadero regarding the Walmart/Annex Project went to trial on Tuesday. Both sides presented their arguments that afternoon to Judge Jac A. Crawford, who now has 90 days to deliver a ruling. M.R. Wolfe & Associates represented the petitioner of the case, Save Atascadero, whose attorney, John Farrow, gave the opening deposition at the Paso Robles branch of the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court.

Farrow stated that the city of Atascadero withheld environmental impact report assessments that were subject to public review before finalizing approval of the EIR. “[ The city] said ‘no, you can’t have them,’” Farrow told the court, “and even if the city did include the assessments in the draft EIR, they are not sufficient to meet the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act.” Farrow went on to state that CEQA is intended to create a dialog between the public and the governing agencies in regards to development and must be followed in detail.

Farrow also said that the city of Atascadero failed to provide for a good faith reasonable response, failed to perform an adequate cumulative health-risk analysis and failed to recirculate per CEQA requirements . He also contended that the analysis provided dismissed relevant input needed to make an adequate report, which the public was then entitled to review. “The city simply failed to proceed as CEQA requires,” Farrow said.

Pierik dismissed the allegations and presented the city of Atascadero’s chronological history of the project’s EIR. According to Pierik, the report is adequate and levels of increased toxins are not significant to raise public concern and far below the requirements of CEQA.

“I felt that our presentation was succinct and stuck specifically to the legal arguments,” Comar said. Comar admitted that the decision is not whether the Walmart project will move forward, simply that, at this point, which direction the project will head is the subject. “The project is approved,” Comar said, “and will be in, it just needs to be the best it can be, environmentally, for the city.

Nobody knows how the judge will rule, he has 90 days to read through briefs and make a ruling.” Comar said he thought the arguments before the court were in his favor, from a legal perspective. “The city and Walmart spent time telling the judge that Walmart is good for the city,” Comar said. “It was more of a public relations campaign when Pierik gave his presentation.”

Comar said that Save Atascadero’s big issue is about the financial cost to Atascadero residents and that the city failed to consult Caltrans for the last six years about the potential costs or whether roundabouts where the best solution. “The draft EIR said that the city and Walmart would contribute to a fund for the 101 mitigations,” Comar said, “but the final EIR stated they would not.”

Comar said that the project, as is, is a financial gamble and is going to be a traffic nightmare. “The original plan stated ‘if the roundabouts are going to work, they need to be done at the same time,’” Comar said. “If they are not done at the same time, then 300 feet past the first roundabout traffic will hit a stoplight. Caltrans was very clear that the project needed to have them all together.” Comar said he just did not think the city made an effort to find out what the cost would be. Atascadero city manager Wade McKinney was contacted in regards to the case, but the Atascadero News has not received comments from the city of Atascadero as of press time.

COURT DATE FOR WALMART SUIT MARCH 19

March 16th, 2013 by admin No comments »

SAVE ATASCADERO UPDATE

FEBRUARY 26, 2013

Contact us at info@opposewalmart.com or go to

opposewalmart.com or saveatascadero.com

P O BOX 1524, ATASCADERO CA 93423

(Please notify us of email address changes)

Editor:  Lee Perkins

VIEW PAST SAVE ATASCADERO UPDATES, AT

saveatascadero.com WEBSITE

SAVE ATASCADERO SEEKS RELIEF IN COURT TO ENSURE CEQA STANDARDS WILL BE MET IN THE EIR REPORTS ON THE

WALMART/ANNEX PROJECT.

******A COURT DATE HAS BEEN SET******

FOR: TUESDAY, MARCH 19

AT:  901 Park Street, Paso Robles, Room P-2,

Judge Crawford presiding.

TIME 10:30 AM

We invite interested persons to join us in court to hear the arguments.  Your presence will show support for SAVE ATASCADERO’S suit asking for an environmentally sound development project that mitigates impacts and is safe for our community.

WHY DID SAVE ATASCADERO FILE THE LAWSUIT?

The Atascadero City Council will be in court March 19, 2013, at 10:30 am in Paso Robles Superior Court, 901 Park Street, Room P-2, presided by Judge Crawford, to defend their decision to certify the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) and to approve the Wal-Mart/Annex Project (The Del Rio Road Commercial Specific-Area Plan).

Save Atascadero is seeking a resolution to the many unsatisfactory, unresolved or unmitigated significant impacts of the Project. The lawsuit was filed on Thursday August 9, 2012 in San Luis Obispo Superior court.

Had the Planning Commission, with the exception of one member, or the City Council done their “due diligence” in assessing, deliberating and ensuring that the project would be the most environmentally mitigated project possible without the financial burden on the taxpayers of millions of dollars of  a yet to be determined amount, the lawsuit would not have been filed.

Save Atascadero represents the interests of the thousands of taxpayers and citizens who had expected the City to protect them from Project impacts.  These citizens  definitely do not want the traffic nightmare that will be created by the current plans  nor do they want the taxpayers shouldering mitigation costs that are generated solely by the Project’s impact.

The EIR process of the last year was the only time that the real impacts of the Project were actually studied and presented to the public.  But, it was seven years ago, in 2005, that Wal-Mart and the Rottman Group began working together to bring the Project to Atascadero.  So, what has been the holdup?

“Wal-Mart changed its plans 16 times over five years,” according to Steven Rottman, CEO of the Rottman Group, in his Tribune viewpoint of November 15, 2011entitled, “Wal-Mart holding project plans hostage.” These delays “cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Rottman continues, “Wal-Mart argues that there is nothing in writing that requires them to fund the traffic mitigation measures (as they promised), but we relied on Wal-Mart’s assurances (and perhaps the city did too).”

Wal-Mart should fund the traffic improvements that have been identified in the EIR. “While every market is unique, Wal-Mart certainly has the financial ability to pay for the improvements.” Wal-Mart’s CEO discusses the company’s 2011 performance on its website (walmartstores.com/sites/annualreport/2011/letter.aspx): “Wal-Mart delivered solid financial performance for fiscal year 2011. … We continued to deliver a stable return on investment of over 19 percent. We closed out the year with almost $11 billion in free cash flow.”

We believe that, at a minimum, Wal-Mart and City officials owe it to the citizens and taxpayers of Atascadero to agree to the following:

  1. All offsite road improvements including El Camino/Del Rio Intersection and Del Rio/101 Interchange must be completed prior to any project store openings in the Del Rio Road Specific Plan Development area.

  1. Applicants shall fund all road improvement costs.  Applicants will be eligible for reimbursement of payments in excess of their proportional shares as funds become available.

  1. In accordance with the latest adapted Traffic Impact Fees (TIF), a portion must be dedicated to improvements to US 101 as well as other measures listed in the RTP intended to alleviate congestion on the US 101 corridor.

  1. Wal-Mart will use their most energy efficient US store–The HE.5 (or updated store) prototype that is Western Climate specific.

This legal challenge is technical and will be decided based on the merits of the briefs and legal arguments in court.

Commentary byTom Comar, Spokesperson for Save Atascadero

THANK YOU FOR YOUR ONGOING SUPPORT

THESE LAST SEVEN YEARS.


SAVE ATASCADERO SEPT 2012 UPDATE

September 9th, 2012 by admin 1 comment »

SAVE ATASCADERO

(FORMERLY OPPOSE WAL-MART) UPDATE

September 6, 2012

Contact us at info@opposewalmart.com or go to

opposewalmart.com or saveatascadero.com

P O BOX 1524, ATASCADERO CA 93423

(Please notify us of email address changes)

Editor:  Lee Perkins

VIEW PAST SAVE ATASCADERO UPDATES, AT

saveatascadero.com WEBSITE

SAVE ATASCADERO SEEKS RELIEF IN COURT TO ENSURE CEQA STANDARDS WILL BE MET IN THE EIR REPORTS ON THE WALMART/ANNEX PROJECT.  THE FOLLOWING IS THE SAVE ATASCADERO NEWS RELEASE AS WELL AS ARTICLES FROM THE A NEWS AND THE TT COMMENTING ON THE SUIT.

THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT!

——-

August 15, 2012

PRESS RELEASE FOR CEQA CHALLENGE OF WALMART/ANNEX PROJECT

Save Atascadero had no alternative but to seek relief in court.  Neither the Atascadero Planning Commission, with the exception of one member, nor the City Council did their “due diligence” in assessing, deliberating, and ensuring that CEQA standards were met by the state-mandated Environmental Impact Report before approving the Project.

Willfully ignoring the testimony of experts and informed citizens, that highlighted insufficiencies, inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the EIR data and the lack of pertinent data, the City Staff, Planning Commission and Council, failed the citizens of Atascadero.

For both pro and anti-Walmart supporters,  rest assured if or when the project comes, we want it to be the best project, the most environmentally mitigated project that is feasible to meet CEQA standards or even to exceed those standards.

This legal challenge is technical and will be fought out in the court room through the testimony of experts, not in the press or letters to the editor.

Any questions are to be directed to

M.R. Wolfe & Associates, P.C. Attorneys-at law

1 Sutter St. Suite 300

San Francisco, Ca. 94104

Tel: (415) 369-9400  email: mrw@mrwolfeassociates.com

Tom Comar, Spokesperson for Save Atascadero

SAVE ATASCADERO NOTE:  Between 40 and 50% of Atascadero residents have septic tanks.  When our septic tanks are serviced, the “septage” must be trucked all the way to Santa Maria to be processed.  This has been happening for almost ten years.  Having to transport the septage such a distance means our septic tank servicing is more expensive for us and inconvenient for local Septic Tank Service companies.  It begs the question, what improvements has Atascadero made to their basic pond system for waste over these last ten years???  In the meantime, the Sewer Fund/Wastewater has accumulated to over 10 Million dollars which the City proposes to borrow to finance the road improvements for Wal-Mart.

SLO TRIBUNE VIEWPOINT

6-22-12

Viewpoint: Annex project not worth risks

By Len Colamarino

I alone voted against the Walmart/Annex project at the Atascadero Planning Commission meeting on June 5.

That Walmart was one of the project applicants had nothing to do with it. The project entails costs and risks for Atascadero that greatly exceed the hoped for benefits and rewards.

The Walmart/Annex Project commits the city to advance approximately $2.5 million to improve the Del Rio freeway interchange. Recovering that money depends on the Annex portion of the project being built. That is a doubtful matter, at best.

Five of the Annex’s six parcels were acquired through foreclosure last month by the Montecito Bank and Trust Co., from its borrower, The Rottman Group. Rottman was Walmart’s co-applicant on the project going back to 2006. Since then, it faltered financially, fell out with Walmart and lost all but one of the Annex parcels. So now five Annex parcels are held by a bank and the other is controlled by a disgruntled, insolvent developer. With the economy still stalled, and no white knights or angels around, assuming the Annex will be developed as Rottman planned is unrealistic.

Nonetheless, the city proposes to bet $2.5 million of taxpayer money on the premise that the Annex will be built as Rottman planned. Not only that, with the city suffering its own financial distress, it will take the $2.5 million from the Atascadero wastewater fund as a loan.

When I questioned this at the Planning Commission meeting, the city attorney summarily declared it legal, without elaborating on the grounds for his opinion. As to whether insurance would cover the risk of the wastewater fund coming up short due to an earthquake or other unplanned event (like a state mandate requiring additional wastewater spending), no answers were forthcoming. Given the sums involved, the irregularity of this inter-agency borrowing, and the various risks, a thorough, written analysis of the issues is the least a city official should have to justify approving such a “funny money” transaction.

Predictably, the Environmental Impact Report is also being challenged. Attorneys for project opponents submitted a letter arguing, most notably, that the EIR’s “fair share” analysis, under which Walmart bears only about half of the project’s traffic mitigation costs, is legally flawed. The city attorney and the EIR consultants dismissed those arguments at the Planning Commission meeting, but did not provide detailed written refutation. That led me to inquire whether insurance might cover the city’s costs in defending against litigation arising from certification of the EIR. Nobody had an answer to that question.

To justify a municipality proceeding in the face of costs and risks of this magnitude, there should be near-certainty that the community will make big money from the project. Here, however, the prospects are nothing like that. Annual sales tax revenues of about $320,000 are projected from Walmart, along with another $200,000 from the Annex if and when it is developed as originally proposed. Beyond that, there are only unquantifiable hopes that multiplier benefits will trickle through Atascadero from money spent at Walmart, even though Walmart’s products are sourced elsewhere and its profits go back to Arkansas.

The Walmart/Annex project’s limited upside cannot support spending $2.5 million that we don’t have, raiding the wastewater fund and exposing the city to risks of major financial loss and protracted litigatigation.  Putting aside the culture-war distractions that come with Walmart’s involvement and assessing this project purely on its merits, it is plain that approval of it in its current form does not withstand analysis. The public’s money is not for gambling, especially in such large amounts and on such an unsafe bet.

Atascadero Planning Commissioner Len Colamarino is a business lawyer who practiced in New York for almost 30 years. He relocated to Atascadero in January 2005.

A NEWS, AUGUST 17, 2012

SAVE ATASCADERO FILES LAWSUIT ABOUT WALMART

Save Atascadero files a lawsuit against the city of Atascadero on Aug. 9 that challenges the city’s actions made on June 26 in regard to the Walmart/Annex.

According to city attorney Brian Pierik, the lawsuit could delay the project at least a year or more.  The petition, filed by Mark R. Wolfe and John H. Farrow of M. R. Wolf and Associates, P.C. of SF, the attorneys for Save Atascadero says that the lawsuit challenges the city’s actions that certified the environmental impact report under the California Environmental Quality Act, public resourced code sec. 21000 et seq., and that approved a general plan amendment, zoning ordinance text and map amendment, specific plan, specific plan master plan of development, tree removal permits and vesting tentative parcel maps for the Del Rio Road Commercial Area Special Plan.

“Save Atascadero had no alternative but to seek relief in court,” Save Atascadero spokesman Tom Comar wrote in a press release issued Wednesday.  “Neither the Atascadero Planning Commission, with the exception of one member, nor the city council did their ‘due diligence’ in assessing, deliberating and ensuring that CEQA standards were met by the state-mandated environmental impact report before approving the project.”

Comar went on to write that city staff, the planning commission and city council “failed” the citizens of Atascadero by “willfully ignoring the testimony of experts and informed citizens, that highlighted insufficiencies, inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the EIR data and the lack of pertinent data.”

“For both pro and anti-Walmart supporters, rest assured if or when the project comes, we want it to be the best project, the most environmentally mitigated project that is feasible to meet CEQA standards or even to exceed those standards,” Comar wrote.

Engineering Development Associates, Inc., Montecito Bank & Trust, Omni Design Group, Inc., The Rottman Group, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and Does I through XXV are listed as real parties in interest.

Pierik said the process would include preparing an administrative record, certified by the city clerk and filed by the court.  Then, Pierik said that the attorneys for the real parties of interest and the respondent (the city of Atascadero) will each have the opportunity to respond to the petitioner’s brief.  Then a hearing would be set.  He said how long it takes would depend on how long it takes to prepare an administrative record and what the brief schedule would be.

“The legal challenge is technical and will be fought out in the court room through the testimony of experts, not in the press or letters to the editor,” Comar wrote.

AUGUST 17, 2012

EXCERT FROM SPRAWL-BUSTERS.com

Since 2006, Sprawl-Busters has posted 13 stories about the citizens’ battle in Atascadero, CA to keep out a WalMart superstore.  The group is fighting a multi-million corporate welfare deal the city has offered WalMart.  For the last six years plus, citizens of this small, California Central Coast town have waged a battle against the giant retailer and the significant deleterious impacts such a development brings.

The most recent fight by Save Atascadero is focused on the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that is mandated by he state’s California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for large commercial projects.

The project is called the ‘Del Rio Road Commercial Area Specific Plan.’  It envisions development of two non-contiguous areas totaling approximately 39.3 acres located at the intersection of El Camino Real and Del Rio Road in the City of Atascadero.

The Project has two components.  The first consists of a Wal-Mart Super-center of 129,560 sq. ft.,together with two 5,000 sq. ft commercial out-lots and up to 44 multi-family residential units, to be developed on approximately 26.2 acres.

The second consists of approximately 120,900 sq. ft of various commercial and retail uses and up to 6 new dwelling units to be developed on approximately 13.1 acres by the Rottman Group.

The initial draft EIR was clear.  Significant traffic impacts at the intersections of 101 and El Camino with Del Rio Road and their mitigations are the sole responsibility of the project applicants:  “Because there would be no impact without the project, the project applicant would be responsible for fully funding and constructing the improvements (EIR 3.11-67,68).”

WalMart sold itself to the city claiming it would pay for all the traffic mitigations required, but has reneged on those statements.  Meanwhile the Rottman Group has gone bankrupt, is being sued for fraud by a local bank, and refuses to pay anything for the traffic mitigations.

So, the City recirculated the EIR, and came up with a proposal to publicly finance with taxpayer monies the lion share of an unknown cost of the traffic mitigation at the intersection.  The real cost will not be known for at least a year, and could range anywhere from $4.5 to $11 million dollars.  Because much of the property and the 101/Del Rio interchange is state owned land, Cal Trans, the state transportation agency, must evaluate and assess what will be required and how much it will cost.

The “we will pay our fair share” political catch-phrase taken up by Wal-Mart was seen for what it was–shopping for city/taxpayer subsidies.  Wal-Mart got it and the EIR was certified and the project was approved.  The EIR also estimated that in the first year that $23.23 million dollars of sales would be lost by local businesses in the sales area and local adjacent communities.

August 29, 2012

Walmart suit hinges on impacts

Save Atascadero says the city did not do a thorough job of analyzing how the project would affect the surrounding area

By Tonya Strickland

tstrickland@thetribunenews.com

A citizens group that has been actively opposed to bringing a Walmart shopping center to Atascadero’s north side filed a lawsuit this week alleging that the city didn’t adequately analyze how the development and adjacent shopping center could affect the surrounding area.

“Save Atascadero had no alternative but to seek relief in court,” group members said in a statement.

The suit alleges that city leaders were “willfully ignoring the testimony of experts and informed citizens, that highlighted insufficiencies, inconsistencies and inaccuracies” in the environmental review stage of the project and “failed the citizens of Atascadero.”

Save Atascadero, previously called Oppose Wal-Mart, includes local resident and group spokesman Tom Comar and group coordinator Lee Perkins. The suit also names residents Gloria Boyd, Madeline Rottman and Ron Rottman as group members.

Their lawsuit, dated Aug. 9 but received by the city Thursday, specifically alleges that the city failed to adequately respond to public comments on the environmental review and failed to require all feasible alternatives to negative impacts presented in that report. The suit further contends that city officials found that “unavoidably significant” impact the projects could bring were acceptable, according to the suit.

The group is seeking to stop the project so further study on how the projects could affect the area can be done. It is also seeking attorney’s fees.

City officials didn’t return requests for comment but issued a statement saying Atascadero City Attorney Brian Pierik is reviewing the documents.

The projects are the Walmart shopping center and an adjacent retail site called The Annex to be built on El Camino Real and Del Rio Road.

Atascadero approved the developments June 26 after nearly seven years of debate, including a failed ballot measure against large big-box stores in town that was also spearheaded by Save Atascadero.

The June approval also certified an environmental report that describes how the projects would affect roads, noise levels and the environment.

Fixes to the Del Rio Road overpass and related roadwork were at the crux of the opposition’s concerns: specifically, having the city front nearly half the cost of the stores’ multimillion-dollar road improvements, instead of requiring the two developers to do so, and possibly dipping into the city’s sewer fund to pay for it.

In addition to the city, the lawsuit lists Wal-Mart Stores Inc., The Rottman Group, Montecito Bank and Trust, Engineering Development Associates and Omni Design Group as parties in interest. They are not defendants in the suit, however.

Before the filing, Walmart was slated to open in Atascadero as early as 2014.

REMINDER: WM/ANNEX EIR PLANNING COMMISSION JUNE 5, CITY COUNCIL JUNE 26 AT 6:00 P M

May 28th, 2012 by admin 4 comments »

SAVE ATASCADERO

(FORMERLY OPPOSE WAL-MART) UPDATE

May 28, 2012

Contact us at info@opposewalmart.com or go to

opposewalmart.com or saveatascadero.com

P O BOX 1524, ATASCADERO CA 93423

(Please notify us of email address changes)

Editor:  Lee Perkins

VIEW PAST SAVE ATASCADERO UPDATES, AT

saveatascadero.com WEBSITE

—-

PLANNING COMISSION, JUNE 5 at City Hall at 6:00 pm

WAL MART/Annex EIR CITY COUNCIL MEETING SET FOR

TUESDAY, JUNE 26 at 6:00 pm.

In an article TT dated 5/26, Tonya Strickland indicated the City of Atascadero City Council has scheduled to hear the proposals regarding the Wal Mart/Annex EIR on Tuesday, June 26th.

The fact that this date has been publically published means the City of Atascadero is moving forward with the Wal Mart/Annex flawed EIR as discussed at the Planning Commission meeting Tues., June 5.

The final EIR report and answers to comments to the Draft EIR and Recirculated EIR are now on the City website: www.atascadero.org.  We are encouraging the public to attend both the Planning Commission and the CC meeting and send in your comments, as well, to Warren Frace at wfrace@atascadero.org no later than

May 31.

Points of interest:

Did you know?

  • The actual cost of the round abouts is an “unknown.”  No formal study has been made.  The $4.5 M figure is purely an estimate made by the City.  The City of Atascadero has not filed the one page Cal Trans form Cal Trans has asked for, the same one the City said they would file in tandom with the processing of the EIR.  So the actual cost and whether or not Cal Trans agrees that the round abouts are the best answer to the traffic flow are still “unknown.”  The City says it will submit the form after approval of the WM/Annex EIR.

  • Wal Mart says that 75% of their stores in California are equipped with Solar Panels but it is not cost effective in Atascadero.  Not Cost effective for Wal Mart that is?  It would seem that Wal Mart is only interested in profit in spite of their so called “Greening” of Wal Mart.  The Del Rio Wal Mart is in an ideal sunny location for solar panels which the State of California Attorney General’s office may require?  This is another issue the Planning Commission could reommend the City Council require.

  • The WM/Annex EIR should have been extended to include the west side of 101 where more commercial development is planned further impacting the Del Rio Intersection in the future.

  • The WM/Annex EIR should have been extended to Potrerro Rd., east of the proposed development.  This road, in engineering terms, is considered a “collector” road.  This means that this road is a busily traveled road (school and bus traffic and a main artery road that funnels traffic to the Del Rio Intersection).  There is no consideration of this in the WM/Annex EIR.

  • There has never been an actual trafic study–no traffic count made car by car of present day traffic in and around the WM/Annex roadways.

  • The parking lot standard space size in a WM parking lot does not accommodate pick-up trucks both in lenth and width.  As you know many of us have trucks in and around Atascadero.

SAVE ATASCADERO MAY UPDATE-WM EIR PUBLIC MEETING SET

May 22nd, 2012 by admin 1 comment »

SAVE ATASCADERO

(FORMERLY OPPOSE WAL-MART) UPDATE

May 21, 2012

Contact us at info@opposewalmart.com or go to

opposewalmart.com or saveatascadero.com

P O BOX 1524, ATASCADERO CA 93423

(Please notify us of email address changes)

Editor:  Lee Perkins

VIEW PAST SAVE ATASCADERO UPDATES, AT

saveatascadero.com WEBSITE

THE PLANNING COMMISSION PUBLIC MEETING ON THE FINAL WALMART EIR (FEIR) IS:  TUESDAY, JUNE 5 (Primary Election Day–exercise your right to vote and then come to the meeting)

CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS AT 6:00 PM.  Come early for a seat!

1. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC Town Hall / Study Session – May 24, 7:00 PM, Atascadero Library Community Room.

2. ARE TAXPAYER FUNDS TO BE USED TO FUND WALMART DEVELOPMENT?

3. ATASCADERO NEWS AND THE TRIBUNE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR CONTRASTING HOW THE CITY SAYS THEY WILL PAY FOR THE WM DEVELOPMENT

___________________________

1. Town Hall / Study Session – May 24, 7:00 PM, Atascadero Library Community Room.

The City Council has refused to conduct a public study session on the PRDEIR, as requested, leaving Atascaderans less capable of making informed comments on the proposed project.  So, we are holding a Study Session to explain the stunning differences between the DEIR and the PRDEIR and more.

The City says the PRDEIR (Partially-Reciculated Draft EIR) will be the subject of a Planning Commission public hearing on June 5 in City Council Chambers at 7:00 pm.  (Watch our Save Atascadero Website–the City could change the date and/or time of the meeting.)

Shortly thereafter, the City Council will conduct a public hearing on the PRDEIR.  If both THE PLANNING COMMISSION AND THE CC approve of the PRDEIR’s analysis of potential impacts and measures to ameliorate them, the process will proceed to FEIR certification and issuance of permits.

Research by residents and comments to the PRDEIR by the Center for Biological Diversity, The Air Polution Control Board and a land use lawyer have found the PRDEIR to be severely deficient.  We have serious concerns with the City’s explanations about funding road improvements which are grossly misleading.  (please see letters to the editor below).

Come out May 24 and join us at a Town Hall / Study Session at the Atascadero Library Community  Room at 7:00 pm.  BE INFORMED ABOUT HOW THIS DEVELOPMENT WILL AFFECT YOUR CITY

We will present facts and have a Q & A following the discussion.

  • Basic information (including DEIR and PRDEIR references) and engage in discussion about what our options are.
  • Arm ourselves with the facts and engage in the democratic process of determining how our town is going to deal with consequences of this development.
  • At this point, the issue isn’t so much whether one is pro- or anti-Wal-Mart.  It’s more about whether rational decision-making will prevail as we move forward.

2. ARE TAXPAYER FUNDS TO BE USED TO FUND WALMART DEVELOPMENT?

The May Atascadero Chamber of Commerce Business Reporter had a report on the Walmart/Annex Project.  Their Legislative Committee sent a list of questions to the City Staff and the report lists the questions and answers.  Under “How will the City Fund any shortfall?”  it was reported, “The City has options to cover any funding gap on the interchange improvements.  One option would be to borrow internally from another restricted City account that has a surplus.  This is allowed under State law and would be repaid as future TIF’s are collected.  Ultimately, this will be a Counci policy decision.”

This fund will likely be the Sewer Maintenance Fund which has a balance of ove 10 M$’s.  The City would borrow from this fund and pay interest to make up what the City will not be getting from the Annex which did not sell this month and is still owned by the bank.  The Annex is years away from providing any TIF funds.

In the following Viewpoint in the Tribune, Wade McKinney, City Manager, states:

“Together, the Walmart and Annex [the Annex is no longer a viable option and parcels are up for auction in this month] projects would be responsible for 53 percent of the traffic impact at the interchange, or $2.4 million.  The remainder of the cost, $2.1 million is the responsibility of the city and could be paid for out of existing and future Traffic Impact Fees (TIFs) by developers (not taxpayer money).”

3. ATASCADERO NEWS AND THE TRIBUNE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR CONTRASTING HOW THE CITY SAYS THEY WILL PAY FOR THE DEVELOPMENT

Atascadero News, Letter to the Editor

4-25-12

Broadwater Calls out McKinney on Figures

Atascadero business people and taxpayers – Beware!

If you believe the City Manager’s claim the city will get about $4.9 million from

the Wal-Mart/Annex project for the Del Rio/101 interchange roundabouts, you’re in

for a very rude and expensive awakening.  In fact, the city will receive about $1.3 million from Wal-Mart for those roundabouts, leaving the rest of us on the hook for about $3.2 million of the estimated $4.5 million cost.

To fabricate his false assertion, Mr. McKinney includes about $2.3 million in fees

from the non-existent Annex project, and about $1.7 million in fees Wal-Mart will

contribute for other (non-Del Rio/101) road improvements in the city. He made

this phony case twice: to the City Council on April 10 and in his April 13 “News

from The City” column, so it’s not just a mistake.

Mr. McKinney claims, “the projects will contribute approximately $4,887,000 to

the city’s TIF account. The city would use this money to fund the interchange

improvements.” Here’s how did he concocted that number:

Regarding special TIFs (Traffic Impact Fees designated for the Del Rio/101

roundabouts), he states, “The special TIF would cover the project’s proportional

shares of the interchange costs, roughly $2,388,000.” That includes the nonexistent

Annex’s TIF of $1,095,301 and Wal-Mart’s TIF of $1,292,798 (total

$2,388,099).

Regarding standard TIFs (for city-wide roads), he states, “the projects will pay a

standard TIF of $2,865,000.” That includes the non-existent Annex’s TIF of

$1,166,536 and Wal-Mart’s TIF of $1,699,220 (total $2,865,756).

Mr. McKinney is falsely inflating project proponent TIF contributions for the Del

Rio/101 roundabouts by a total of $3,961,057, including $2,261,837 from the

Annex that’s gone belly-up, and $1,699,220 from Wal-Mart not designated for the

Del Rio/101 roundabouts.

Mr. McKinney’s fabrications were about the “Wal-Mart only” PRDEIR (Partially

Re-circulated Draft EIR), from which all the above figures are derived (see 3.11

Transportation, page 3.11-29 on the city’s website). Public comments on the

PRDEIR will close on April 30.

So, the business community and taxpayers in town are left with a $3,207,202

million burden as an unfunded liability for the estimated $4,500,000 million cost of

the Del Rio/101 interchange. And, we won’t know what the actual costs will be until

Cal-Trans either approves the roundabouts, or requires more expensive rebuilding

of the overpass.

It is highly irresponsible for the City Manager to disseminate such disinformation,

and for the City Council to allow him to do so.

David Broadwater

Atascadero

http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2012/05/03/2052711/viewpoint-city-managerdistorting.

html

SLO Tribune

5-3-12

Viewpoints: Costs of Walmart/Annex in Atascadero

City manager distorting costs of Walmart/Annex

David Broadwater

Atascadero business people and taxpayers, beware!

If you believe the city manager’s claim that the city will get about $4.9 million

from the Walmart/Annex project for the Del Rio/Highway 101 interchange

roundabouts, you’re in for a very rude and expensive awakening.

In fact, the city will receive about $1.3 million from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for

those roundabouts, leaving the rest of us on the hook for about $3.2 million of the

estimated $4.5 million cost.

To fabricate his false assertion, Mr. McKinney includes about $2.3 million in fees

from the nonexistent Annex project, and about $1.7 million in fees Wal-Mart will

contribute for other (non-Del Rio/101) road improvements in the city.

He made this phony case twice: to the City Council on April 10 and in his April 13

“News from The City” column, so it’s not just a mistake.

Mr. McKinney claims “the projects will contribute approximately $4,887,000 to

the city’s TIF (traffic impact fees) account. The city would use this money to fund

the interchange improvements.”

Here’s how he concocted that number:

Regarding special TIFs (Traffic Impact Fees designated for the Del Rio/101

roundabouts), he states, “The special TIF would cover the project’s proportional

shares of the interchange costs, roughly $2,388,000.” That includes the nonexistent

Annex’s TIF of $1,095,301 and Wal-Mart’s TIF of $1,292,798 (total $2,388,099).

Regarding standard TIFs (for city-wide roads), he states, “the projects will pay a

standard TIF of $2,865,000.” That includes the nonexistent Annex’s TIF of

$1,166,536 and Wal-Mart’s TIF of $1,699,220 (total $2,865,756).

Mr. McKinney is falsely inflating project proponent TIF contributions for the Del

Rio/101 roundabouts by a total of $3,961,057, including $2,261,837 from the

Annex that’s gone belly-up, and $1,699,220 from Wal-Mart not designated for the

Del Rio/101 roundabouts.

Mr. McKinney’s fabrications were about the “Wal-Mart only” PRDEIR (Partially

Re-circulated Draft EIR), from which all the above figures are derived (see 3.11

Transportation, page 3.11-29 on the city’s website).

So, the business community and taxpayers in town are left with a $3,207,202

million burden as an unfunded liability for the estimated $4.5 million cost of the Del

Rio/101 interchange. And, we won’t know what the actual costs will be until

Caltrans either approves the roundabouts or requires more expensive rebuilding of

the overpass.

It is highly irresponsible for the city manager to disseminate such disinformation

and for the City Council to allow him to do so.

David Broadwater has lived in Atascadero since 1972 and has been following city

government for several years.

Editor’s Note:

Given the importance of this issue, we offered the city of Atascadero the opportunity to respond to criticisms about the funding of the Walmart/Annex traffic improvement raised in David Broadwater’s Viewpoint. With Broadwater’s permission, we shared

his Viewpoint with city officials so that they could more fully address his concerns.

Note that together, the special interchange fees paid by Wal-Mart and the Annex

equal $2,388,099, or 53 percent of the high estimate for the construction of the

interchange roundabouts.

Let’s Clarify the Project’s Costs to City, Taxpayers

By Wade McKinney

The Walmart/Annex project consists of 260,460 square feet of retail uses and 50

residential dwelling units. There are two commercial components of the project: a

129,500-squarefoot Walmart store with two freestanding pad buildings and The

Annex with 120,900 square feet of commercial uses.

Public hearings on the Del Rio Commercial Area Specific Plan (Walmart/ Annex)

will begin in June. The Planning Commission and City Council will both hold public

hearings on the Environmental Impact Report and the proposed Specific Plan. In

order to facilitate a productive public dialogue, it is important the public

understands the fundamentals of the traffic mitigation proposal.

The EIR has identified a significant impact to the Del Rio Road/Highway 101

interchange as a result of the project. Roundabouts are proposed as a cost-efficient

traffic mitigation solution. The cost of building the roundabouts is $3 million to $4.5

million. The city is using the higher $4.5 million estimate to calculate project fees.

Under state law, projects are only financially responsible for their “proportional

share” of an off-site facility such as a freeway interchange. Together, the Walmart

and Annex projects would be responsible for 53 percent of the traffic impact at the

interchange, or $2.4 million. The remainder of the cost, $2.1 million, is the

responsibility of the city and could be paid for out of existing and future Traffic

Impact Fees paid by developers (not taxpayer money).

The developers will pay their share of impact through regular and special

Transportation Impact Fees.

In addition, Wal-Mart will install $1.9 million in street improvements along El

Camino Real and Del Rio Road. The issue of traffic fees and proportional share is

rather complex and can be confusing. Here is a summary of the proposed traffic

fees for the project:

Walmart

• Special Interchange Fee, $1,159,923.

• Standard Traffic Impact Fee, $1,443,414.

• Credits for road improvement to be completed by developer ($333,912)

Walmart total: $2,269,425

Annex/Residential

• Special Interchange Fee, $1,228,176

• Standard Traffic Impact Fee, $1,422,342

• Credits for road improvements to be completed by developer ($32,529)

Annex total: $2,617,969.

Total developer traffic fees: $4,887,394

What happens if the Rottman Group fails to develop the Annex? The fact remains

that the site’s proximity to Highway 101 and a new Walmart store makes it

extremely attractive for future development.

If Walmart is approved, we believe development at the Annex will occur. While

there may be a period of time that the city’s Transportation Impact Fund (TIF) (fees paid

by developers, not tax dollars) fronts part of the interchange prior to development

of the Annex site, the risk may well be worth it. Not only will members of the

community get the much-needed shopping and restaurants they have long desired,

there will be significant jobs and tax revenue as a result. The fiscal consultant for

the EIR estimates the combined Annex/Walmart project will generate net income of

$530,000 annually for the city.

Wade McKinney is the City Manager of Atascadero.

Note:  This last paragraph brings up questions:

  • With no Annex in the near future, yes there will be a period of time (years) the city fronts part of the interchange prior to development of the Annex site.
  • “The risk may be well worth it.”  Do you agree?
  • “much needed shopping”  Eight miles north of Atascadero are numerous shopping entities.  Within the city itself, we have 4 major grocery stores and 2 discount groceries not counting Trader Joe’s in Templeton.
  • What restaurants will come along with WM?  Will we have more drive throughs?  At this point there are no full scale restaurants interested in either the WM/Annex sites.  And, we now have 4 upscale restaurants in town and many small diverse eating opportunities.

SAVE ATASCADERO MARCH 2012 UPDATE-CITY TO HELP WAL MART WITH DEVELOPMENT-MAKE COMMENT!

March 22nd, 2012 by admin No comments »

SAVE ATASCADERO UPDATE

March 20, 2012

Contact us at info@opposewalmart.com or go to

opposewalmart.com or saveatascadero.com

P O BOX 1524, ATASCADERO CA 93423

(Please notify us of email address changes)

Editor:  Lee Perkins

VIEW PAST SAVE ATASCADERO UPDATES, AT

saveatascadero.com

*******

ATTENTION

PLAN TO ATTEND THE ATASCADERO CITY COUNCIL (CC) MEETING

ON TUES., MARCH 27 AT 6 AT CITY HALL TO VOICE

YOUR COMMENTS TO THE CITY COUNCIL ABOUT THE

DEL RIO COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT AREA

PARTIALLY RE-CIRCULATED EIR

****************

I. SEND YOUR COMMENTS IN ON THE “PARTIALLY RE- CIRCULATED DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT (PRDEIR)

II. WAL MART STATUS IN ATASCADERO

AS PER TT AND A NEWS

III. SEND YOUR COMMENTS RE DEL RIO RD COMMERCIAL AREA SPECIFIC PLAN TO WARREN FRACE

IV. Dec 2, 2011 SAVE ATASCADERO UPDATE AND HISTORY OF WM IN ATASCADERO

V. FUNDING SAVE ATASCADERO

VI. COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS

**************

  1. SEND YOUR COMMENTS IN RE THE “PARTIALLY RE-CIRCULATED DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT (PRDEIR)

The PRDEIR just released by the City of Atascadero will circulate for public review between Thurs. March 15 and Monday, April 30, 2012.  It is up to you to take this opportunity to respond to this PRDEIR during this window or forever hold your peace.

PRDEIR availability:  The PRDEIR is available in print form at the Atascadero Branch Library at 6850 Morro Road, Atascadero and at the address below, and online at the City of Atascadero website:

Contact: Warren Frace, Dir.

city of Atascadero, Community Dev. Dept.

6907 El Camino Real, Atascadero CA  93422

Phone:  4703488, Fax 4703489

email: wfrace@atascadero.org

When you send and email, be sure and ask for a reply to be sure your comments are received.

II. WAL MART STATUS IN ATASCADERO

AS PER TT AND A NEWS

March 21st Atascadero News’ story today gives no new information except how to view the PRDEIR (although they do not mention PRDEIR) and how to give public comment.  There is no info in the article about the City of Atascadero using City funds/tax payer/current business fees to help bring us a WM supercenter.

——-

ATASCADERO:  City could help pay for Walmart, Annex street upgrades

Study divvies up costs of roads for retailers

By Tonya Strickland tstrickland@thetribunenews.com

The city of Atascadero could front nearly half the cost of road improvements that would be needed if a Walmart and neighboring shopping center are built on the city’s north end, according to an amended project study released Thursday.

For about seven years, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and The Annex have proposed shopping centers with housing across from each other in a largely rural area at Del Rio Road and El Camino Real.

The developments, which aren’t approved yet, went in together on an environmental study last year to determine how their projects would affect roads, noise and the environment. The city plans to use that study, along with Thursday’s update, this summer to help determine whether to approve the plans.

The city allowed the update, which Walmart paid for, after the retail giant and The Annex’s Santa Barbara based developer, The Rottman Group, couldn’t agree this past summer on how to fund $4.5 million in estimated road improvements.

“The way the first EIR was written, it said ‘the project’ (or ‘the applicant’) would be responsible for constructing the interchange,” said Warren Frace, community development director.

Because the report didn’t define whether the phrasing meant both developers or just Walmart, Frace said that the shopping centers disagreed on the cost share.

In order to move past the developers’ impasse, the update now suggests that the city build roundabouts on the overpass instead of “the project” fronting those costs.

Consultants say future development, as defined by city growth estimates through 2025, would reimburse the city.

The consultants used a calculation to determine that the builders of future development would be responsible for 47 percent of the road improvements, while Walmart and The Annex would be responsible for 53 percent.

Of that, Walmart would be responsible for about 29 percent, or nearly $1.3 million, and The Annex would need to contribute about 24 percent, or about $1.1 million, according to the report.

Those costs come from a new type of fee to be collected from Walmart and The Annex to specifically fund the roundabouts, Frace said.

That fee would be collected in addition to traffic impact fees that developers normally pay: about $1.7 million from Walmart and about $1.2 million from The Annex.

Those traffic impact fees would combine with other fees historically collected from developers that fund a list of other traffic improvements planned throughout the city. The City Council will then be able to vote on whether it wants to move the Del Rio Road interchange project higher on that list.

Transportation money– The road improvements are two roundabouts on the Highway 101 overpass. Consultants estimate that Walmart and The Annex would bring more traffic to the area and the improvements would quell the traffic increases.

Walmart is already funding a third roundabout at El Camino Real and Del Rio Road where a traffic light stands today.

A Walmart-only option, also considered in the update, said roundabouts would still be required without The Annex, but only after future developments are built.

If the city funds the remaining share of the roundabouts, it will do so from its transportation fund, which would need additional money to cover the $4.5 million cost. A figure representing the amount of money in that fund wasn’t immediately available.  The council would need to approve borrowing from other city funds to cover roundabouts.

Plan scaled back- Walmart is going forward with a plan that has been scaled back from the failed proposals that were put forth in 2007. Walmart’s proposed center would now include 123,000 square feet of retail and grocery space plus about 6,500 square feet of outdoor garden services.

The Annex would have more than 120,000 square feet of commercial space, with the option for a single family residential development.

Walmart’s parcel also includes about 10,000 square feet for two commercial lots and space for a 44-unit multifamily residential development.

The public can comment on the update through late April and can find the study in the Community Development section via the City Departments tab online at www.atascadero.org or viewing same at the Atascadero City Hall.

pastedGraphic.pdf

III. Dec 2, 2011 SAVE ATASCADERO UPDATE AND HISTORY OF WM IN ATASCADERO

In 2006, Wal-Mart purchased the property for the WM SUPER CENTER from the Rottman Group. At that point, Wal-Mart publicly stated it would take the lead on its own project, would pay for the environmental impact report (EIR) needed to support it, and stated publicly (as reported by OPPOSE WM and the TT reporting from Atascadero City Council Meeting 10/07) that Wal-Mart would fund the traffic mitigation measures, once they were identified in the EIR. Concurrently, Rottman would proceed with their plan to develop a second property on Del Rio.  It appeared all plans were moving forward.

Wal-Mart changed its plans 16 times over five years, responding to a changing economy. Wal-Mart ultimately decided to build a smaller store. As of the end of 2011,Wal-Mart wanted to change the rules by limiting its contribution on the traffic mitigation measures, and compel the city and/or Rottman to pay the difference (approximately $2 million).  This put the project in an impasse.  At the June 13, 2011, CC Mt., the Council voted to have the City Staff go forward with “discussion” on solving the impasse between WM and Rottman.

The Wal-Mart project has dragged on for years and has cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars as well as countless staff hours. Wal-Mart knows Atascadero wants this store.

Fast forward to this last week when the above article appeared in the TT and today’s A News and THE CITY OF ATASCADERO STANDS UP TO PAY HALF THE COST OF ROAD IMPROVEMENTS.

We had projected from the start that WM’s template was to make the City pay for their development.

As per the PRDEIR, The city of Atascadero could front nearly half the cost of road improvements that would be needed if a Walmart and neighboring shopping center are built on the city’s north end.

So, WM the richest corporation in the world, who originally agreed to foot the bill, with the help of the City Staff has shifted the cost to the City taxpayers and other businesses .  This means a free ride for WM who will now be paying far less than their “fair share” of the development.

How did the EIR go from the “project” developers paying for their road improvements, round-abouts, and overpass improvements for their development to the City fronting nearly half the cost of road improvements.  Did the City Staff decide this?  Did the City Council approve this?  Is this what came out of the “discussion” the CC directed the Staff to begin with WM and Rottman?

So basically, we the taxpayers and current City of Atascadero businesses are paying for the development.  Is this OK with you?

And this is at a time when our City is carrying on business with a deficit.  The plan to recoup the funds the City spends by Traffic Impact Fees from current and future business fees or from robbing the City mitigation fund is unconscionable.  The sales tax from WM is a big ‘MAYBE.’  AGAIN, THE CITY OF ATASCADERO DOES NOT HAVE A PLAN, BUT A HOPE!

IS THIS HOW OUR CITY IS RUN?

PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO BOTH RESPOND TO THE PRDEIR AS WELL AS WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR.  THIS IS ELECTION YEAR.  LET THE CITY COUNCIL KNOW THAT THIS IS AN ELECTION ISSUE.  WM CAN EASILY AFFORD THESE DEVELOPMENT IMPROVEMENTS.  ALSO LET YOUR CITY COUNCIL KNOW YOUR COMMENTS ON THE CITY PAYING FOR THE DEVELOPMENT IMPROVEMENTS.

FOR THE A NEWS EMAIL:  editor@atascaderonews.com (400 WORDS)  For TT:  letters@thetribunenews.com (200 words)

For New Times:  letters@newtimeslso.com (250 words)

Ask for a reply to your email to be sure your Letter to the Editor is received for all papers.  And you may need to follow up as well.

IV. FUNDING SAVE ATASCADERO $$$

PREVIOUSLY OPPOSE WALMART, NOW SAVE ATASCADERO, HAS EXISTED ON A SHOE STRING BUDGET BASICALLY JUST RENEWING ITS WEBSITE THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS.  WE ARE NOW IN NEED OF REFUNDING FROM THOSE THAT SUPPORT US.

PLEASE SEND US ANY CONTRIBUTION YOU CAN AFFORD, $1 TO WHATEVER.  WE KNOW ALL OUR SUPPORTERS HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY THE ECONOMY SO WE WOULD APPRECIATE ANY CONTRIBUTIONS YOU CAN MAKE AT THIS TIME.

MAKE OUT CHECK TO OPPOSE WALMART AND SEND CONTRIBUTIONS TO:

SAVE ATASCADERO

  1. O. BOX 1524

ATASCADERO CA  93423

  1. COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Fashion Show & luncheon fundraiser for Hospice Partners and CASA

Sat., March 31, 11 am, San Luis Obispo Golf & Country Club

For more information call Cathy Cooley 709-1770.

  • Talk on Global Warming by Dr. Ray Weymann

at Cal Poly, April 11 (Wed), 6:30 pm, Spanos Theatre.

For more info: ray.climate@charter.net

  • Second Annual Atascadero Library Children’s Classic at Portola Inn

Save the date:  Sat., June 23, 10-3:30 pm

This special event is for children ages 3-10 and their parents, grandparents and friends and offers a day full of activities based on storybook favorites.  Tickets will be available at the Atascadero Library.  For more information go to:  www.atascaderofriendsofthelibrary.org.


WALMART LIES, ROTTMAN FAILS

December 13th, 2011 by admin No comments »

SAVE ATASCADERO UPDATE

December 2, 2011

Contact us at info@opposewalmart.com or go to

opposewalmart.com or saveatascadero.com

P O BOX 1524, ATASCADERO CA 93423

(Please notify us of email address changes)

Editor:  Lee Perkins

VIEW PAST SAVE ATASCADERO UPDATES, AT

saveatascadero.com

WAL MART STATUS IN ATASCADERO

  1. ARTICLES IN TT AND A NEWS

These recent articles in the TT and A News indicate the level of animosity between so called co-developers of the Del Rio Development.  There may be suits filed based on the final outcomes of the development negotiations.  The City is right in the middle of everything.  If the City leans on the side of Wal Mart, Rottman could sue the City and Wal-Mart.

It is SAVE ATASCADERO’S observation that it would be a good time for the City of Atascadero to step back and out of the middle of these Rottman/Wal-Mart disagreements.

Let your Council know your thoughts and come to the next Atascadero City Council Meeting on Tues., Dec. 13 at 6 pm and join the voices asking for the City who represents us, the taxpayers and business owners, to ask the City Staff to cease negotiations until Rottman and Wal-Mart come to a resolution.

Viewpoint Nov. 15, 2011

Wal-Mart holding project plans hostage

By Steven Rottman

The proposal to bring a Walmart store to Atascadero has been in the works for more than six years and now that it is time to move ahead in earnest, Wal-Mart is trying to backpedal on commitments it made with respect to the traffic mitigation for the project.

You might find the preceding statement a curious one, coming as it does from the very people who introduced Wal-Mart to Atascadero: namely me, Steven Rottman, and my partners at the Rottman Group. As longtime developers we are often caught in crossfire and peppered with accusations. That comes with the territory.

But what doesn’t come with the territory are Wal-Mart’s actions regarding the proposed development at the corner of Del Rio and El Camino Real. I am writing this Viewpoint to explain a long and torturous process that has left us in an untenable situation.

Some background: In 2005, the Rottman Group began working with Wal-Mart to locate a 200,000-plus-square-foot store on Del Rio in Atascadero. The Wal-Mart proposal generated great public debate, but in the end, residents voted overwhelmingly to support it. Actually, of those that voted, and the voting was low, voters voted “no” on restricting Wal-Mart to

sf with a maximum of                         groceries.  Of those that voted 2/3’s were in favor of not restricting Wal-Mart’s size and groceries.  However, 3,000 of those that voted wanted to restrict Wal-Mart…

In 2006, Wal-Mart purchased the property for the store from the Rottman Group. At that point, Wal-Mart told us that Wal-Mart would take the lead on its own project, would pay for the environmental impact report (EIR) needed to support it, which they did, and stated publicly that Wal-Mart would fund the traffic mitigation measures, once they were identified in the EIR. Concurrently, Rottman would proceed with our plan to develop a second property on Del Rio.  It appeared all plans were moving forward.

So what’s the problem? Wal-Mart changed its plans 16 times over five years, responding to a changing economy and in essence revising its business plan. Wal-Mart ultimately decided to build a smaller store. We have no problem with that decision, but we do object to Wal-Mart now wanting to change the rules by limiting its contribution on the traffic mitigation measures, and compel the city, Rottman or other property owners to pay the difference (approximately $2 million).

Wal-Mart argues that there is nothing in writing that requires it to fund the traffic mitigation measures, but we relied on Wal-Mart’s assurances (and perhaps the city did too).

The Wal-Mart project has dragged on for years and has cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars as well as countless staff hours. Wal-Mart knows Atascadero wants and needs this store, and is now holding both the city and Rottman hostage.

Wal-Mart should stop trying to save itself $2 million and should fund the traffic improvements that have been identified in the EIR. While every market is unique, Wal-Mart certainly has the financial ability to pay for the improvements. Wal-Mart’s CEO discusses the company’s 2011 performance on its website ( walmartstores.com/sites/ annualreport/2011/letter): “Wal-Mart delivered solid financial performance for fiscal year 2011. … We continued to deliver a stable return on investment of over 19 percent. We closed out the year with almost $11 billion in free cash flow.”

Wal-Mart should quit pressuring the city to assign increased fees to the adjacent properties and encumber future developments with liens that may impede progress in the City. Wal-Mart should fund the improvements.

Some readers may tell me we should have expected an unsavory outcome when we first began this process. All that aside, the facts are that Rottman has met its commitments and will continue to work with the city and Wal-Mart to ensure that this project moves forward with appropriate traffic improvements. Nonetheless, we believe Wal-Mart should now do what it said it was going to do. I sincerely hope residents will speak up and tell Wal-Mart to fund the traffic mitigation measures.

Steven Rottman is the CEO of Santa Barbara based Rottman Group, developers of projects throughout the Central Coast.

Developers’ road-fee dispute goes to council – July 2011

At issue tonight is who will pay how much and whether money will come out of traffic funding

By Tonya Strickland

tstrickland@thetribunenews.com

About four months after the release of an environmental review of Atascadero’s long debated and controversial Walmart proposal, the developers continue to disagree on how to pay for traffic improvements.

The Atascadero City Council will be asked tonight to mediate between the two groups on how to fund a $3 million to $4.5 million Del Rio Road freeway interchange at Highway 101, a traffic improvement that consultants say is needed if the retail giant opens on the north side of town.

Three roundabouts on Del Rio Road are also recommended, as well as additional improvements.

The applicants are Wal-Mart Stores Inc., proposing a commercial and residential project, and the Santa Barbara-based Rottman Group, which wants to build an adjacent shopping center called The Annex.

While the projects are separate, the applicants submitted a joint specific plan that consultants used to determine what environmental impacts the developments could have on roads, noise and the environment.

In the original deal, Wal-Mart said it would pay for the entire environmental review and the traffic improvements it recommended, said Keith Mathias, Rottman’s senior vice president. But now Wal-Mart is asking to split those costs, he added.

“Rottman had an understanding with Wal-Mart that they would pay … since they’re the much bigger store,” Mathias said. “But now they’re looking at us since our square footages are about the same after they downsized.”

On Monday, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman said the retailer remains committed to paying its “full fair share” — estimated to be more than $1.7 million — toward the construction of traffic improvements.

But what remains in question is where that money would come from. The city could use the developers’ already-planned traffic impact fees. Developers pay those fees to the city to fund regional road improvements where development occurs.

Whether Wal-Mart’s estimated $1.7 million contribution would come from traffic impact fees was not clear Monday. Mathias said the combined traffic impact fees from both developers would total around $3 million. His impact fees total about $1.5 million, he said.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart critics fear city funds could be used.

A group called Save Atascadero says it’s “adamantly opposed to using taxpayers money” to fund any part of required traffic improvements.

Wal-Mart is going forward with a scaled-back plan compared with failed proposals in 2007. The development is now slated to have 123,000 square feet of retail and grocer y items plus about 6,500 square feet of outdoor garden services.

The Annex would have more than 120,000 square feet of commercial space with the option for a single-family residential development.

pastedGraphic.pdf

Don’t Subsidize Big Boxes at Local Shops’ Expense

When governments use public money to woo national chains, economic growth and job creation are negligible. Independent retailers also suffer.

By Stacy Mitchell

Sifting though the postmortem news of Borders Group’s demise, I came across a local newspaper story about a California town that had spent $1.6 million to lure a Borders bookstore to a local shopping center. According to the paper, government officials in Pico Rivera in 2003 agreed to pay part of a new Borders store’s operating expenses by providing a $10,833 monthly subsidy for the next 15 years.

That might seem like an astonishing amount of public money to give a retail shop, but what’s truly remarkable about the deal is just how unexceptional it actually is. Handing out multimillion-dollar subsidies to large chains has become commonplace in much of the country. These deals are premised on the idea that new shopping centers and big-box stores expand employment and create economic growth. The trouble is, these giveaways have done little more than help large retailers at the expense of small businesses.

No one knows exactly how much public money has flowed to chains. These subsidies take different forms—property tax exemptions, sales tax rebates, job tax credits—and most states do not keep a central record of every municipal and county development incentive. But Good Jobs First, a nonprofit research group that tracks these deals, estimates that large retailers have received at least several billion dollars over the past 15 years. Its executive director, Greg LeRoy, says the giveaways have continued through the recession, despite budget shortfalls and a glut of vacant retail space.

BIG BENEFICIARIES

Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) has been a frequent recipient. From 2008 through 2009, the company pocketed $7.9 million in tax exemptions from local development agencies in New York, according to data from the state comptroller. Wal-Mart also received $1.8 million in tax credits and rebates in 2009 to build five super centers in Louisiana, records kept by the state’s Board of Commerce & Industry show. Last year, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the city of Bridgeton, Mo., approved a $7.2 million deal to finance construction of a single Wal-Mart super center.

Other big retailers have been at the public trough, too. Target (TGT) picked up $1.4 million in local tax breaks to build a store in the small town of Kenner, just outside New Orleans, according to the Times-Picayune. Amazon (AMZN) secured a five-year sales tax exemption from the South Carolina legislature in exchange for opening a distribution center in the state.

Subsidy recipients and government officials often justify these deals on the basis of job creation and economic growth. While Wal-Mart and Amazon did not respond to requests for comment, Molly Snyder, a Target spokeswoman, says the “Kenner Target store created more than 200 new jobs.” She notes: “The business development agreement was a key factor in helping to get the project built.”

SCANT ECONOMIC GROWTH

A recent study, however, indicates that subsidizing retail development produces neither job gains nor new tax revenue. Earlier this year a consortium of local governments in the St. Louis metro area found that cities and counties in the region had diverted more than $5.8 billion in public tax dollars to finance private development. More than 80 percent of these funds supported the construction of new chain stores and shopping centers.

Yet the region has seen virtually no economic growth. “The number of retail jobs has increased only slightly and, in real dollars, retail sales per capita have not increased in years,” the authors of the study wrote, noting that many of the region’s municipalities are now broke. According to the study, more than 600 small retailers have closed in the St. Louis metro area. The resulting job losses have offset the job gains from the new development.

These findings should prompt other cities and regions to reconsider the wisdom of giving big retailers tax breaks and subsidies. Not only is evidence of a public benefit lacking, but local businesses shouldn’t see their tax dollars used to boost their biggest competitors.

A more prudent, and fairer, way for cities to support economic development would be to invest in infrastructure, education, and other community assets that are broadly beneficial to a wide variety of businesses and potential entrepreneurs.

Had Pico Rivera taken such an approach, it might still have a bookstore. In the years since the city began funding Borders, more than 400 new independent bookstores have opened nationwide, according to the American Booksellers Assn. Virtually all did so without the benefit of public funding, staking their success instead on smart business skills and the kind of community support that must be earned one customer at a time.

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AND REGARDING WAR-MART’S GREENING??????????????pastedGraphic_2.pdf

Sustainability as growth strategy

by Stacy Mitchell

Walmart’s growth has been go-go-go ever since it launched its sustainability initiative.

Walmart adopted sustainability as a corporate strategy in 2005. It was struggling mightily at the time. Bad headlines stalked the chain, as its history of mistreating workers and suppliers finally caught up with it. One analysis found that as many as 8 percent of Walmart’s customers had stopped shopping at its stores. Grassroots groups were blocking or delaying one-third of its development projects. Stockholders were growing nervous. Between 2000 and 2005, Walmart’s share price fell 20 percent.

As then-CEO Lee Scott told The New York Times, improving labor conditions would cost too much. It would also mean ceding some control to employees and perhaps even a union. Going green was a better option for repairing the company’s image. It offered ways to cut costs and, rather than undermining Walmart’s control, sustainability could actually augment its power over suppliers. Environmentalism also had strong appeal among urban liberals in the Northeast and West Coast—the very markets Walmart needed to penetrate in order to keep its U.S. growth going.

Since Scott first unveiled Walmart’s sustainability program, the company’s head office in Bentonville, Ark., has issued a steady stream of announcements about cutting energy use, reducing waste, and, more recently, selling healthier food. Most of these announcements declare goals, not achievements. But the goals sound audacious enough to reliably produce sweeping headlines and breathless accounts of how Walmart could remake the world by bending industrial production to its will.

By 2010, the number of Americans reporting an unfavorable view of Walmart had fallen by nearly half, from a peak of 38 percent in 2005, to 20 percent.

What the news media haven’t reported

As I started to work on this series, I looked back at the coverage of Walmart’s sustainability campaign over the last six years and was shocked by just how much of a public relations boost the media have given the company and how little public accountability they have demanded in return.

Some of the most serious environmental consequences of Walmart’s business model simply aren’t on the table. Walmart doesn’t talk about them and, despite expending a lot of ink and airtime on the company’s green activities, the news media don’t either. Indeed, journalists rarely stray beyond the parameters of what Walmart has put in front of them.

More surprising is the absence of basic information essential to evaluating what Walmart is actually accomplishing. Take, for example, the share of Walmart’s electricity that comes from renewable sources. There have been thousands of news stories and blog posts on the company’s renewable energy activities since 2005, so one would think this number would be reported often. I couldn’t find it anywhere. (I did eventually dig up enough data to figure it out myself. The answer: less than 2 percent of the company’s electric power in the U.S. comes from its wind and solar projects.)

Or take the case of the Sustainability Index, Walmart’s much-publicized effort to put a green rating on every product it sells. Two years after the media fanfare surrounding the announcement, no journalist, as far as I can tell, has investigated what progress, if any, Walmart has actually made. (According to my research: not much.)

This series aims to fill in some of these gaps and, hopefully, inspire other writers and journalists to take a closer look at what Walmart is and isn’t doing.

What environmentalists haven’t paid attention to

“Walmart is here to stay”—that’s the refrain I often hear from the many environmental organizations and green-business advocates who have applauded the company’s sustainability efforts. The world’s largest retailer isn’t going away, the thinking goes, so anything it does to reduce its footprint is a good thing.

But Walmart circa 2005 is, in fact, long gone. Today’s Walmart is much, much bigger. It sells 35 percent more stuff in the U.S., and its international store count has almost tripled, from about 1,600 to 4,600 stores.

For Walmart, sustainability is a growth strategy—and a highly effective (and darkly ironic) one at that. Six years ago, Walmart was facing widespread opposition, including legislation that would have required better labor practices and limited the company’s growth. Thanks at least in part to its sustainability campaign, and the warm reception from many environmentalists, those roadblocks have eroded and Walmart’s expansion is once again rolling at full speed.

As it grows, Walmart pushes out existing enterprises and local economic systems and replaces them with its own, often far more polluting, global supply chain and sprawling stores. If any single fact could sum up what’s at stake, it would be that Walmart now controls one-quarter of our country’s grocery sales and aims to capture half—a prospect with disastrous implications for the environment, social justice, and local economies.

So far, though, most mainstream environmental organizations have focused on the small bits of good that Walmart could do—reduce PVC in packaging, for example—while ignoring the much larger consequences of its ever-expanding business model.

This series will mark, we hope, the beginning of a more comprehensive and critical response to Walmart’s sustainability initiatives. We’ll be publishing new pieces once or twice a week through early December, so keep an eye on the menu at right—and share your own insights in comments below.

Read the articles in the series so far:

  1. Walmart by the numbers: Green vs. growth
  2. Is your stuff falling apart? Thank Walmart
  3. Think Walmart uses 100% clean energy? Try 2%
  4. Walmart’s promised green product rankings fall off the radar
  5. Can you say ‘sprawl’? Walmart’s biggest climate impact goes ignored

Stacy Mitchell is a senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, where she directs initiatives on independent business and community banking.  She is the author of Big-Box Swindle and also writes a popular monthly newsletter, the Hometown Advantage Bulletin.  She lives in Portland, Maine, and has lately joined Twitter.


SEPTEMBER 2011

November 26th, 2011 by admin 3 comments »

SAVE ATASCADERO

(FORMERLY OPPOSE WAL-MART) UPDATE

September 17, 2011

Contact us at info@opposewalmart.com or go to

opposewalmart.com or saveatascadero.com

P O BOX 1524, ATASCADERO CA 93423

(Please notify us of email address changes)

Editor:  Lee Perkins

VIEW PAST SAVE ATASCADERO UPDATES, AT

saveatascadero.com WEBSITE or OPPOSE WALMART

  1. WALMART STATUS IN ATASCADERO

  1. CA SB469 – impact on Big Box developments

  1. Subsidize Big Boxes at Local Shops’ Expense

IV. GROCERY STRIKE EMMINENT

V. Community Announcements

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  1. WALMART STATUS IN ATASCADERO

Walmart is again delaying, this time implementing the EIR directive.  Walmart is saying its “fair share” is $1.5 M versus the $3 M or so that the Walmart/Annex road/over-change improvements will cost.  The Rottman Group says they cannot afford to pay a share of these improvements.  A TT editorial suggested, the City should not cross the line between “discussions” and “negotiations” in talks now ongoing re funding of traffic improvements for a new Walmart center.  “In this case, we [TT] firmly believe the developers should pay their own way–which is what they offered to do practically from the start.”

NO CITY FUNDS SHOULD BE SPENT ON THIS DEVELOPMENT!!!

Another reason for delay could be the CA Legislature’s Bill, SB 469, which is now on Gov Brown’s Desk.  Please see below.  This will require the city or county considering the superstore application to hire a qualified consultant to conduct an economic impact study. The cost of the study is paid by a fee levied on the applicant.  This is in addition to what the traditional EIR mandates for an economic study.

II. CA SB469 – impact on Big Box developments

Economic Impact Review - California

BILL NUMBER: SB 469 ENROLLED BILL TEXT
PASSED THE SENATE MAY 31, 2011

PASSED THE ASSEMBLY SEPTEMBER 1, 2011
INTRODUCED BY Senator Vargas FEBRUARY 17, 2011
An act to amend Section 65950 of, and to add Section 65957.3 to, the Government Code, relating to land use.

On September 2, 2011, the California Legislature passed the following bill, which requires cities and counties to have an economic impact analysis prepared before deciding whether to approve an application to develop a large superstore.

Governor Jerry Brown has until October 9, 2011, to sign or veto the bill.  PLEASE BE IN TOUCH WITH GOV BROWN TO LET HIM KNOW THAT YOU WANT HIM TO SIGN SB 469 ASAP TO SAFEGUARD OUR CITIES BUSINESSES.  YOU CAN REACH HIM AT:  Mailing address:  Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 558-3160 (preferred contact other than phone)

Emails could take up to 90 days to respond

The legislation defines a superstore as a retail store of at least 90,000 square feet that devotes 10 percent or more of its space to groceries. It will affect Walmart and Target, both of which operate large stores that include groceries.

Under the law, the city or county considering the superstore application must hire a qualified consultant to conduct an economic impact study. The cost of the study is paid by a fee levied on the applicant.

The study must assess a range of impacts enumerated in the law, including:

  • the extent to which the proposed superstore retailer will capture a share of retail sales in the market area.
  • how the construction and operation of the proposed superstore will affect the supply and demand for retail space in the market area.
  • how the construction and operation of the proposed superstore will affect employment in the market area, including an analysis of whether the proposed superstore will result in a net increase or decrease in employment in the market area.
  • the effect on wages and benefits of employees of other retail businesses, and community income levels in the market area.
  • the costs of public services and public facilities resulting from the construction and operation of the proposed superstore retailer and the incidence of those costs.
  • the effect that the construction and operation of the proposed superstore retailer will have on retail operations, including grocery or retail shopping centers, in the same market area.
  • the effect that the construction and operation of the proposed superstore will have on average total vehicle miles traveled by retail customers in the same market area.
  • the potential for long-term vacancy of the property on which the superstore is proposed in the event that the business vacates the premises


The “market area” is defined as an area around the store large enough to support its operation, but which may not extend further than 25 miles from the store.  After the study is complete, the city or county must invite public comment on the study and the application at one of its meetings.

History
In 2010, San Diego enacted a ordinance requiring an economic impact review of superstores. The measure was repealed in early 2011, after Walmart threatened to organize a referendum campaign to overturn the law.

The repeal prompted San Diego Senator Juan Vargas to introduce the statewide bill. Vargas has said that the legislation does not violate local control; cities are still free to approve superstore applications, regardless of the study’s findings. “They will know what they are doing is wrong but at least they will have the facts,” he said. “Before they were acting in the dark.”

San Diego Assemblyman Ben Hueso, who presented the bill in the house, said that it provides decision-makers “with facts, not hearsay.” Walmart and other large retailers often claim their stores will increase employment, but studies indicate these stores often cause more job losses than gains.

By making the requirement apply statewide, the new law ensures that cities that would like to consider economic impacts are not placed at a disadvantage. The preamble to the bill notes: “Currently, local governments that desire to perform due diligence for their constituents by performing an economic analysis are placed at a disadvantage because a neighboring city or county may not perform an economic analysis. This a situation may result in the shifting of sales tax and destruction of the business community in a city or county that simply wants to study the impacts of the development project before making a final approval.

III. Don’t Subsidize Big Boxes at Local Shops’ Expense

When governments use public money to woo national chains, economic growth and job creation are negligible. Independent retailers also suffer

By Stacy Mitchell

Sifting though the postmortem news of Borders Group’s demise, I came across a local newspaper story about a California town that had spent $1.6 million to lure a Borders bookstore to a local shopping center. According to the paper, government officials in Pico Rivera in 2003 agreed to pay part of a new Borders store’s operating expenses by providing a $10,833 monthly subsidy for the next 15 years.

That might seem like an astonishing amount of public money to give a retail shop, but what’s truly remarkable about the deal is just how unexceptional it actually is. Handing out multimillion-dollar subsidies to large chains has become commonplace in much of the country. These deals are premised on the idea that new shopping centers and big-box stores expand employment and create economic growth. The trouble is, these giveaways have done little more than help large retailers at the expense of small businesses.

No one knows exactly how much public money has flowed to chains. These subsidies take different forms—property tax exemptions, sales tax rebates, job tax credits—and most states do not keep a central record of every municipal and county development incentive. But Good Jobs First, a nonprofit research group that tracks these deals, estimates that large retailers have received at least several billion dollars over the past 15 years. Its executive director, Greg LeRoy, says the giveaways have continued through the recession, despite budget shortfalls and a glut of vacant retail space.

BIG BENEFICIARIES

Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) has been a frequent recipient. From 2008 through 2009, the company pocketed $7.9 million in tax exemptions from local development agencies in New York, according to data from the state comptroller. Wal-Mart also received $1.8 million in tax credits and rebates in 2009 to build five supercenters in Louisiana, records kept by the state’s Board of Commerce & Industry show. Last year, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the city of Bridgeton, Mo., approved a $7.2 million deal to finance construction of a single Wal-Mart supercenter.

Other big retailers have been at the public trough, too. Target (TGT) picked up $1.4 million in local tax breaks to build a store in the small town of Kenner, just outside New Orleans, according to the Times-Picayune. Amazon (AMZN) secured a five-year sales tax exemption from the South Carolina legislature in exchange for opening a distribution center in the state.

Subsidy recipients and government officials often justify these deals on the basis of job creation and economic growth. While Wal-Mart and Amazon did not respond to requests for comment, Molly Snyder, a Target spokeswoman, says the “Kenner Target store created more than 200 new jobs.” She notes: “The business development agreement was a key factor in helping to get the project built.”

SCANT ECONOMIC GROWTH

A recent study, however, indicates that subsidizing retail development produces neither job gains nor new tax revenue. Earlier this year a consortium of local governments in the St. Louis metro area found that cities and counties in the region had diverted more than $5.8 billion in public tax dollars to finance private development. More than 80 percent of these funds supported the construction of new chain stores and shopping centers.

Yet the region has seen virtually no economic growth. “The number of retail jobs has increased only slightly and, in real dollars, retail sales per capita have not increased in years,” the authors of the study wrote, noting that many of the region’s municipalities are now broke. According to the study, more than 600 small retailers have closed in the St. Louis metro area. The resulting job losses have offset the job gains from the new development.

These findings should prompt other cities and regions to reconsider the wisdom of giving big retailers tax breaks and subsidies. Not only is evidence of a public benefit lacking, but local businesses shouldn’t see their tax dollars used to boost their biggest competitors.

A more prudent, and fairer, way for cities to support economic development would be to invest in infrastructure, education, and other community assets that are broadly beneficial to a wide variety of businesses and potential entrepreneurs.

Had Pico Rivera taken such an approach, it might still have a bookstore. In the years since the city began funding Borders, more than 400 new independent bookstores have opened nationwide, according to the American Booksellers Assn. Virtually all did so without the benefit of public funding, staking their success instead on smart business skills and the kind of community support that must be earned one customer at a time.

Stacy Mitchell is a senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, where she directs initiatives on independent business and community banking. She is the author of Big-Box Swindle.

IV. GROCERY STRIKE EMMINENT

According to the TT today, Unionized grocery workers may vote for a strike tonight.  Grocery workers have been negotiating and without a contract for eight months.  The issue is over benefits reduction including health care.  In 2003 the Grocery workers settled a 4 month strike and compromised with Grocery owners reducing benefits for new incoming workers.  To maintain a head-of-household wage and health care, the Grocery workers have reached a limit for compromise.  It is likely, if the strike is voted to go forward, that Albertson’s will close temporarily. We hope you will not cross the picket line for Ralphs, Vons and Albertson’s if they open and the strike continues.

While the TT taks about the loss in business for the Grocers, it does not talk about what a difficult decision it is to strike.  Striking means a dramatic loss of pay for Grocery workers.

Please support your local family and neighbors who are grocery store workers and must take a stand now to provide for themselves and families.

Other options in Atascadero are Spencer’s and Food For Less.

IV. Community Announcements:

A TASTE OF ISLAM

An Introduction to the Faith of Muslims

Come and learn about a faith tradition that many of us know little about. A day long seminar will be held at the Lake Pavilion on Saturday, October 29th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. It will be led by Dr. Stephen Lloyd-Moffett, the chair of religious studies at Cal Poly University, Dr. Rushdi Abdul-Cader, a local Muslim physician, and Rev. Jane Voigts from SLO United Methodist Church.

This seminar was held in SLO to rave reviews and a standing room only crowd, so we have invited them to the North County. The way to create peace in our world is through understanding and building relationships, and it begins here in our own communities.

We are suggesting a $20 donation at the door to cover the costs of the hall and lunch, which will be provided.

For more information, contact:

Rev. Susan Brecht, (805) 466-9108 or sincerelysusan@sbcglobal.net

Rev. Jane Voigts, (805)543-7580 or pastor@sloumc.com

ATASCADERO MOVING PLANET RALLEY- a single day to move away from fossil fuels.  Sat., 9/24 at the Atascadero Lake Park, 3-9:00 pm

3RD ANNUAL FOOD BANK HUNGER WALK, SUN., 9/25 at Lake Park, 2:00 pm

BENEFIT FOR SLO FILM FESTIVAL & WOMEN’S LEGACY FUND

“MISS REPRESENTATION” a new film by Jennifer Siebel Newsom

Wed, Oct 5, 5-6:30 wine tasting and Tapas at Luna Red, 1009 Monterey, SLO. www.slofilmfest.org or 546-3456 for $50/person tickets. AND/OR

7-9:00 Movie & Q & A at the Fremont, free screening, suggested $15 donation at door at 6:00 pm.  Tickets can be reserved by email:  sloiffl@yahoo.com

Bill McKibben (new book Eaarth) to speak at Fremont on Oct. 30-get tickets on line:

http://cc4justice.eventbrite.com and use your credit card.

July 2011 -WM pressures City for Dev. Help

November 26th, 2011 by admin No comments »

SAVE ATASCADERO

(FORMERLY OPPOSE WAL-MART) UPDATE

July 12, 2011

Contact us at info@opposewalmart.com or go to

opposewalmart.com or saveatascadero.com

P O BOX 1524, ATASCADERO CA 93423

(Please notify us of email address changes)

Editor:  Lee Perkins

VIEW PAST SAVE ATASCADERO UPDATES, AT

saveatascadero.com WEBSITE

  1. WAL MART IS AGAIN ORGANIZING ITS SUPPORTERS TO PRESSURE CITY COUNCIL TO SUBSIDIZE TRAFFIC MIDIGATIONS AND/OR OVERRIDE EIR RECOMMENDATIONS AT SHOCKLEY’S AT 6:00 P. M. ON JULY 21–BE THERE AS PER ROBO CALLS!

II. WHEN WILL THE CITY COUNCIL AGENDA HAVE THE RESULTS OF THE “DISCUSSIONS” BETWEEN CITY STAFF AND WALMART/ROTTMAN?

III. WHAT CAN YOU DO TO KEEP THE CITY FROM GIVING YOUR TAX MONIES TO WALMART FOR THEIR DEVELOPMENT?

  1. New Procedures for the Community Forum
  2. A PHOTOGRAPHIC RECEPTION PLANNED FOR JOE SCHWARTZ’S ON 7/28

——–

I. WAL MART IS AGAIN ORGANIZING ITS SUPPORTERS TO PRESSURE CITY COUNCIL TO SUBSIDIZE TRAFFIC MIDIGATIONS AND/OR OVERRIDE EIR RECOMMENDATIONS AT SHOCKLEY’S AT 6:00 P. M. ON JULY 21–BE THERE!

Wal Mart is hosting a meeting at Shockley’s–again spending in Atascadero some of its vast resources to organize Atascaderans against themselves by calling and inviting them to a meeting at Shockley’s, 6:00 p.m. on JULY 21ST.  Please attend and see how they justify their dramatically reduced “fair share”of the cost of mitigation that Rottman and WM are totally responsible.. Send us your observations.

WM wants the city to help with the overpass/road work and development of their proposed store at Del Rio and El Camino.  It appears that Rottman, WM’s partner in this development, cannot pay their “fair share” and WM considers their “fair share” half of what they promised to pay.

In spite of a 2005 email in which WM promises to pay for the traffic impact costs, Warren Frace and Gerry Clay, at the June 13 CC Mt., said WM was offering to pay half the cost of the road improvements as mandated by the EIR, $1.7 M,              was WM’s “fair share.”  That was prior to the CC directing the City Staff to “discuss” with WM options for paying for the Del Rio overpass/roundabouts/road improvements mandated by the EIR.

  1. WHEN WILL THE CITY COUNCIL AGENDA HAVE THE RESULTS OF THE “DISCUSSIONS” BETWEEN CITY STAFF AND WALMART/ROTTMAN?

The “discussion” between WM/Rottman and the City Staff was approved to go forward by the City Council (CC) at the June 13 CC Mt.  As Oppose WalMart predicted, WM is now backtracking on their statements and email that they would pay for the interchange costs [October 2007 public meeting--as reported by TT].  At the 6/13 mt, WM’s attorney Berkowitz said WM’s “fair Share” is estimated to be $1.7 M versus the estimated cost of road improvements and roundabouts at “between $3 and $4.5 million” [Atascadero News].  Frase’s estimated costs for Rottman and WM are $2.63 million.  So what does WM mean by their “fair share?”

At the Tues., July 12 CC Mt., City Manager said “discussions” had not yet begun with Walmart.  No date has been set to agendize this issue.

An TT editorial in the June 16th edition, wrote:

“We [TT] firmly believe the developers [Walmart] should pay their own way–which is what they offered to do practically from the start.

As Tribune writer Tonya Strickland reported, at a public meeting in October 2007, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and the Annex clearly indicated that they would pay for the environmental impact review (EIR) and for any improvements recommended by that review.

Now, however, Wal-Mart has backed away from that offer and is instead expressing a willingness to pay its “fair share” of $1.7 M…

Regardless of whether or not the project has been downsized, the EIR makes it clear that the current plan will still generate a substantial increase in traffic.  And, that will will still require expensive improvements to the Del Rio Road freeway interchange, as well as new roundabouts on Del Rio Road.

We don’t believe the city, which like every local government is struggling to maintain a decent level of services for its citizens, should be on the hook to step in and bail out the world’s largest retailer.”

Lon Allen also wrote on the WM/Rottman issue in his June 21 column in the TT:

“My argument is not with Wal-Mart.  I’d have the same concerns with any other big-box store or major commercial project going there, or anywhere else in the community.

If the project is going to require that improvements be made to the local infrastructure to reduce its negative impacts on the city [noise, light, environmental traffic pollution], then those costs must be fully paid by the applicant or applicants.”

  1. WHAT CAN YOU DO TO KEEP THE CITY FROM GIVING YOUR TAX MONIES TO WALMART FOR THEIR DEVELOPMENT?

CC Meetings in July and August are ONLY on the 2nd Tues. of the months.  The WM issue is not on the CC agenda for Tues., July 12  Although calls to City Hall have not been returned as to when it will be, we expect it will be on the Tuesday, August 9 agenda and we need YOU to attend this meeting to let the City know that WM needs to pay their full “fair share” which is at least double the $1.7 M they are offering to pay now.

You can also write letters to the editor expressing your views:

editor@atascaderonews.com, 400 words

letters@newtimes.com, 250 words

letters@thetribunenews.com, 200 words

We know the CC wants WM to come to Atascadero.  We know that WM wants the City to use its Development Fees for the WM project.  This may be OK with the CC, but it is not OK with the Business Community and taxpayers of Atascadero.  WM/Rottman need to pay their full “fair share” as promised in writing and at public meeting re WM.

Contact your CC members and let them know your concerns.  We have elected the CC to work for our City not WM.

  1. NEW PROCEDURES FOR THE COMMUNITY FORUM AT CITY COUNCIL MEETING

At the CC Mt. tonight (July 12), several citizens spoke at Community Forum to items not on the agenda and asked questions to be answered by the CC.  Instead, after the Community Forum, the Mayor advised those that spoke that “questions will not be a subject of discussion. Any members of the pubic who have questions may contact City Clerk Marcia Torgerson.  Her card is in the back of the chamber.”

The City Council Agenda under Community Forum used to read, “The Council may take action to direct the staff to place a matter of business on a future agenda.”

Please consider that citizens are attending the CC Mt. to address the CC at Community Forum with a concern/question which is not on the agenda.  Now those questions meant for the CC and City Staff are to be redirected to Marcia Torgerson, City Clerk.  This means there is no way for an item of concern of a citizen to be placed on the agenda, but instead responded to by the City Clerk.

This raises concerns that the CC is further isolating themselves by not responding to citizens who are using Community Forum to address their elected CC.  It also raises concerns about transparency of the City government.

V. A PHOTOGRAPHIC RECEPTION PLANNED FOR JOE SCHWARTZ’S ON 7/28 

You are invited to Joe’s PHOTOGRAPHIC RECEPTION/98th birthday celebration which will be held on Thursday, July 28th from 4:00 – 6:00 PM at the SLO Unitarian Fellowship – 2074 Parker Street in SLO. Approximately 25 pieces will be displayed from his 80 year photographic career.

These photos will also be on display for viewing at this location from July 17 – August 28 (9 AM – 1 PM) or call 544-1669 or 227-4246.

This exhibit is a preview of his upcoming Washington, DC. African-American Smithsonian Museum of Art, which is due to open in 2015, where Joe’s work will be featured during the opening exhibit!

The Unitarian Fellowship on Parker St. is located between High St. & South St., 1 block over from Higuera (on the side street near Smart & Final store).

This reception is open to the public if you have friends that are interested in attending.

The Motlos

SAVE ATASCADERO ELECTION 2010 UPDATE RE CC

October 9th, 2010 by admin No comments »

SAVE ATASCADERO

(FORMERLY OPPOSE WAL-MART) UPDATE

October 9, 2010

Contact us at info@opposewalmart.com or go to

opposewalmart.com or saveatascadero.com

P O BOX 1524, ATASCADERO CA 93423

(Please notify us of email address changes)

Editor:  Lee Perkins

VIEW PAST SAVE ATASCADERO UPDATES, AT

saveatascadero.com WEBSITE

ATASCADERO CITY COUNCIL ELECTION UPDATE

  1. CITY COUNCIL FORUM 9/21/2010
  2. SAVE ATASCADERO QUESTIONNAIRE SENT TO CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES AND RESPONSE
  3. THIS IS THE ELECTION YEAR OF “WHERE ARE THE CANDIDATES?”
  4. LEGACY OF GEORGE LUNA–FINANCIAL HEALTH
  5. REVIEW OF WAL-MART MYTHS, RECENT PRESS & STUDIES

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE NOVEMBER ELECTION, EMAIL US AND WE WILL PROVIDE YOU WITH RESOURCES TO CANDIDATES AND PROPS.

********************

  1. CITY COUNCIL FORUM 9/21/2010

BASED ON THE PAST AND PRESENT PERFORMANCE OF NEW CANDIDATES AND INCUMBENTS, SAVE ATASCADERO CANNOT RECOMMEND ANY CANDIDATE FOR THE CITY COUNCIL.

Tom Comar and I attended the candidate forum and our impressions were that

all the candidates are strongly in favor of building a Wal-Mart Super-Center  in spite of community concerns such as environmental, noise, and safety to name a few.  These were some of their comments:

Chuck Ward believes city financial problems will be solved if we”stem the flow of sales tax” going outside the city.  He was concerned about pollution caused by “cars coming through 101” but what about the cars coming into Atascadero for their Wal-mart shopping.  See graph at the end of myths.

Tom O’Malley believes the proposed Wal-Mart “fits our economic development goals.”

Sandy Jack said Wal-Mart will kick-start the city’s economy.

Brian Stutevant asked that we work together to make Wal-Mart happen.

Bret Heinemann is in favor of Wal-Mart.

The candidates were asked about California Green Building Codes to go into effect 2011.  There was a Lack of serious grasp of the importance of embracing environmental steps such as these codes.  We are concerned if Wal-Mart goes forward that these candidates will not ask Wal-Mart to implement, for example, the use of solar panels and porous parking lots for better water trainage to name a few high tech environmental friendly building adjustments.

Not a single CC member or candidate has noticed that the Colony Design of the proposed Wal-Mart at the Just Listening has been scraped for the unattractive big box design for our city.

The candidates were also asked about Eagle Ranch.  For this development some candidates addressed “full cost recovery” from developers and responsiveness to possible traffic problems.  Yet, during the Wal-Mart discussion, there was no reference or discussion of how traffic, noise, expansion of roadways, overpass at Del Rio, environmental issues, property rights problems for the Del Rio residential neighbors, water run off, sewers, need for additional emergency services such as fire and police would be addressed and who would pay for them.

II. SAVE ATASCADERO QUESTIONNAIRE SENT TO CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES AND RESPONSE

SAVE ATASCADERO 2010 ATASCADERO CITY COUNCIL

ELECTION QUESTIONNAIRE

HOW IMPORTANT TO YOU AS A COUNCIL MEMBER REPRESENTING THE CITY OF ATASCADERO IS:

  1. Balancing the “moving forward” of the Wal-Mart/Annex development against:

  1. Impact on neighborhoods in the Del Rio area–noise, safety?

  1. An EIR with unmitigatable impacts–With the power of the City Council, will you direct Wal-Mart to make this development an environmental model along state building guidelines?  For example, implementing solar panels and porous parking lot materials to protect against run-off which would affect neighbors?

  1. Traffic problems that will be created by the potential of 12,000 car trips on any given day as you would for the Eagle Ranch Development generating far less traffic.

  1. How aggressive will you be in seeking “full cost recovery” for the Wal-Mart/Annex Development–having the developers carry their own weight.  Please be specific on traffic control, Del Rio overpass cost, water, widening of roadways to the development, and sewers.

  1. Will you as a City Council monitor the Wal-Mart/Annex project to see that union wages are paid and that local workers/contractors are utilized in the project?

  1. How important are the “property rights” of the neighbors to the Wal-Mart/Annex development and how will you protect these neighbors from noise, traffic and safety?  Please be specific.

III. THIS IS THE ELECTION YEAR OF “WHERE ARE THE CANDIDATES?”  The Atascadero City Council (CC) race is no exception.  The Chamber didn’t even have a forum but substituted with 6 general questions in their Election 2010 Business Report in the Atascadero News instead.

The above questionnaire was sent to all the CC candidates. Only two gave the courtesy of a reply:

Bret Heiemann said, “I am reviewing the questions.  However, since all of the other candidates are either incumbents of either the city council or planning commission and are therefore under the Brown Act I’m not sure whether it’s fair for me to be the only one responding in detail since I’m the only non-incumbent.”

IN RESPONSE:  ACTUALLY, SENDING A QUESTIONNAIRE TO ALL CANDIDATES AND THEIR RESPONSE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE BROWN ACT.

Sandy Jack also responded with an email and request to meet.  We settled on a phone interview and discussed the above questions.  The bottom line remains, however.  He is in favor of the Wal-Mart/Annex project.  While recognizing our concerns for “property rights” for the neighbors, noise, traffic, environmental design and safety, he did not commit to any stands he might take.  He did say he doesn’t have “all the answers” and he would “listen to everyone.”

IV. LEGACY OF GEORGE LUNA — FINANCIAL HEALTH

Let us not forget that for the twelve years that George Luna was on the council, he positively and directly influenced the management of the city budget and general finances.  In earlier times during his tenure when the city was in a financial pinch, he personally sat down with the City Manager and helped balance a workable budget without layoffs.

V. REVIEW OF WAL-MART MYTHS, RECENT PRESS & STUDIES

Myth: Wal-Mart will bring more jobs to our community.

Facts: Multiple academic and economic studies reveal that despite Wal-Mart’s mantra of adding jobs and improving the local and national economy, the reality is exactly the opposite.

  • Between 1992 and 2002, the grocery industry lost 13,000 stores and thousands of jobs. For each Wal-Mart Super Center that opens, two grocery stores will close.
    Source: Retail Forward

Today Wal-Mart uses over 3,000 Chinese factories to produce its goods—almost as many factories as it has stores in the U.S. (3,600). Wal-Mart is America’s largest importer. U. S. companies have moved operations overseas, while imports flood into the U.S., a combination that has cost millions of lost American manufacturing jobs.
Source: L A Times/Associated Press

Myth: Wal-Mart will bring more money to our community.

Facts: Money spent at Wal-Mart does not stay in the community.

  • “Three times as much money stays in the local economy when you buy goods and services from locally-owned businesses compared to chain stores.”
    Source: Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), 2003
  • Chains return only 14.1% of its revenue to the local economy, mostly in the form of payroll. The rest leaves the state, flowing to out of state suppliers or back to corporate headquarters.”
    Source: ILSR
  • Local businesses rely on local services and suppliers (banks, manufacturers, accountants, lawyers, farmers, newspapers, internet providers, etc.). Wal-Mart uses international suppliers and corporate services.  Source ILSR
  • Local business owners live here. They care about our people and our future. In mid-coast Main, for example, local businesses make charitable donations at four times the rate of Wal-Mart.  Source: Main State Planning Office Statistics
  • Small businesses are particularly hurt by Walmart’s entry.

The presence of big box stores, such as Walmart, causes “a substantial reduction in net employment growth at smaller retailers, which is mostly accounted for by an increase in job destruction from store exit” according to a 2009 study by the U.S. Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies4.

Walmart makes taxpayers pay for the consequences of its low wages.

  • Public assistance used by Walmart associates cost California about $86 million a year, according to a 2004 study5.

Wal-Mart doesn’t care what your community thinks.

  • In 2005, Wal-Mart real-estate manager Jeff Doss spoke about an oft-cited remark by company founder Sam Walton that Wal-Mart would not build stores in towns if the residents did not want them. “Were that the case,” he said, “we’d never build a store anywhere”6.

Myth: Wal-Mart has the lowest prices.

Facts: “Wal-Mart’s match its rivals on average.”

  • The key principle behind Wal-Mart’s “Everyday Low Pricing (EDLP)” is that prices are based on the level of competitions in that given community at that given time. As these competitors close, due to Wal-Mart’s low-balling of prices, the pressure on pricing eases up, allowing Wal Mart’s prices to float higher.  Source: The Case Against Wal-Mart, 2004
  • Wal-Mart which advertises itself as the everyday low price leader isn’t necessarily so. A shopping survey was conducted over a one-month period from a list of 19 household items at six stores. Of the 19 items purchased, Wal-Mart’s was the cheapest for only 2 of the 19 items.
    Source: Carroll County News Staff, Arkansas
  • In a 2007, issue of Consumer’s Report, Wal-Mart was ranked 45th among national grocery stores based on service, perishables, price and cleanliness. Trader Joe’s was number 2 and Costco was number 7.

Myth: Wal-Mart Casts Itself as a Good Corporate Citizen.

Facts: As the largest private employer in the US, Wal-Mart has come under particular scrutiny for its labor practices.

Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2010

By ANN ZIMMERMAN And NATHAN KOPPEL

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that a gender discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. can go forward as a class-action case, in one of the biggest class-action lawsuits in history.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco voted 6-5 to affirm a federal judge’s decision to award class-action status to potentially one million women or more. The ruling increases the pressure on Wal-Mart to either settle claims of unfair pay brought by the women or risk going to trial.

Wal-Mart faces Minn. labor law trial
Boston Globe
July 2, 2008—Wal-Mart Stores Inc. broke Minnesota labor laws, a state judge ruled, handing the world’s largest retailer its third straight defeat in a wage-class action trial and the possibility a jury may order it to pay $2 billion.

There is a history of numerous class action lawsuits for wage and hour violations against Walmart.

  • Walmart reported in January 2009 that the company was involved in at least 73 class action lawsuits alleging wage-and-hour violations1. According to The New York Times, the suits include allegations Walmart forced “employees to work unpaid off the clock, eras[ed] hours from time cards and prevent[ed] workers from taking lunch and other breaks that were promised by the company or guaranteed by state laws.2

Walmart’s settlement is worth little to workers and less to the company.

  • In December 2008, Walmart announced it would settle 63 of the outstanding class action suits over wage-and-hour violations for an amount between $352 million and $640 million.3
  • Walmart’s settlement represents the company’s 2008 sales for a mere 13 hours and 56 minutes.4

Myth: Wal-Mart cares about its employees.

Facts: Wal-Mart Associates don’t earn enough to support a family.

  • Walmart’s national average wage of $11.75 an hour2 is 2.5% below the average wage of $12.04/hour for Retail Sales persons, the largest retail industry occupation, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)3.Source: 2006 HHS Poverty Guidelines
  • Walmart has plan options with cheap premiums – but they come with high deductibles.
  • Walmart’s 2010 health care offerings include cheap premiums of $27 per pay period for family coverage, or $702 per year, however this plan has a high annual deductible of $4,4001.
  • In addition, Walmart associates covered by the health plan face a $10,000 out-of-pocket maximum1.Wal-Mart has the highest employee turnover rate of industry, over 50% the first year. This translates into approximately 50,000 employees per month. In Wal-Mart’s business model, high employee turnover is not a bad thing since it lowers payroll cost and means fewer employees qualify for benefits.
    Source: New York Times

Wal-Mart Settles 63 Lawsuits Over Wages
The New York Times
December 24, 2008— Wal-Mart said on Tuesday that it would pay at least $352 million, and possibly far more, to settle lawsuits across the country claiming that it forced employees to work off the clock. Several lawyers described it as the largest settlement ever for lawsuits over wage violations.

Wal-Mart and Poverty
St. Louis Business Journal
May, 2007—One year ago this month, the Social Science Quarterly releases a study examining Wal-Mart and poverty rates. “The study found that nationwide an estimated 20,000 families have fallen below the official poverty line as a result of the chain’s expansion… During the last decade, dependence on the food stamp program nationwide increased by 8 percent, while in counties with Wal-Mart stores the increase was almost twice as large at 15.3 percent.”

Cal. Supreme Court Bolsters Local Authority to Control Retail
The Hometown Advantage
June 8, 2007—In a unanimous decision, the California Supreme Court fortified efforts by cities to limit big-box stores, favor small-scale retailers, and protect the vitality of downtowns. The ruling strongly affirms the authority of cities to enact zoning rules that regulate economic competition to achieve valid public purposes.

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