Vargas expects ‘tough fight’ against big box economic impact studies

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Sen. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, said today that he expects a “tough fight” to pass a bill that would require developers of big box superstores to conduct economic impact studies.

Vargas announced Wednesday that he would introduce a bill with provisions similar to a law repealed Tuesday by the San Diego City Council.

The legislation, which he plans to introduce within two weeks, would require the economic impact reports from builders of stores larger than 90,000 square feet and with 10 percent of the floor space dedicated to groceries.

Critics of the rescinded San Diego ordinance claimed it limited consumer choice of where to shop and unfairly targeted Wal-Mart for employing non- union labor.

“It makes these `superboxes' prove they're a good thing,” Vargas told reporters this afternoon. “Just prove it up — that's all you have to do.”

The San Diego law was passed in November, and the City Council later overrode a veto by Mayor Jerry Sanders.

Wal-Mart funded a petition drive that garnered for more signatures than necessary to force the council to choose between putting the issue to a public vote, which would cost the debt-ridden city around $3 million, or rescind the law — which they did.

“That's reminiscent of what the railroads used to do,” Vargas said. “We can't allow that to happen.”

He said Wal-Mart was strong politically, and that it would not surprise him if the company funded another petition drive to get the issue on a statewide ballot, if his bill passed.

Categories: KUSI