Turlock’s Ban on Increased Revenue

Turlock enacted a Big Box Ordinance in 2004 that prohibits any retail store larger than 100,000 feet that devotes more than 5 percent of its space to nontaxable items such as groceries. This is old news but may now be relevant again.
City of Turlock’s Big Box Ordinance singled out plans to ban a Wal-Mart Supercenter proposed to be located in Monte Vista Crossings, while not specifically naming the company.
Local grocery stores and unions put the pressure on the Turlock City Council to help preserve their shopping centers and well paying union jobs. Closing competitors, overall job loss and decreased pay were argued to be results of a Wal-Mart Supercenter opening.
The local papers had articles and letters stating how a supercenter would put local “small” businesses out, create commercial shopping center vacancies, drive down pay throughout the city, and even attract undesirable people to Turlock. Debates even went as far as to argue Wal-Mart’s place in the international economy and what affects it is causing around the world.
Turlock’s Mayor at the time, Curt Andre, stated that the reason the City of Turlock was fighting the supercenter was because of traffic impacts. The Big Box Ordinance bans such stores from anywhere in Turlock. This means that there are not any locations now or in the future that may be able to accommodate a Wal-Mart Supercenter.
Despite the public reason of traffic impacts, legal documentation and reports state that the Turlock City Council’s purpose was to preserve neighborhood shopping centers. In an April 5, 2006 ruling, the appeals court said that the city’s motives were legal even if its action hurt competition.
Referring to the possible affects of a large new business opening, the court also said in 2006 that “While zoning ordinances may not legitimately be used to control economic competition, they may be used to address the urban/suburban decay.”
This was referring to concerns that a Wal-Mart Supercenter would put a locally owned grocery store and shopping center anchor, such as Liberty Market, out of business while creating an entire vacant shopping center.
A Wal-Mart Supercenter opened in Stockton in 2004.
People from Turlock were making the approximate 45 minute trip up Highway 99 to take advantage of specialty items and the deals offered by the Stockton Wal-Mart Supercenter. Old shopping patterns and increasing gas prices were most likely responsible for keeping Turlockers buying locally after the new supercenter’s opening hype wore off.
Although Wal-Mart opposition states that the company’s pay is not good, 500 new additional jobs were created and drew 4,000 applicants. The initial 400 of the 900 jobs were transfers from the replaced Wal-Mart location.
Target Supercenter opened in Atwater this year, Wal-Mart Supercenter plans to open in Ceres, and rumors about Wal-Mart supercenters opening in Delhi, Keyes, etc in the near future are now news.
Modesto’s Wal-Mart Supercenter just opened on November 12, 2008.
In a time of struggling economics, hundreds of people lined up to get in the store before it opened. When other businesses are reporting losses, Wal-Mart is still doing well. When the unemployment rate in Stanislaus County has hit 10.5%, Wal-Mart just hired 370 employees out of 6,000 applicants.
Turlock’s Wal-Mart Supercenter opening…
When will a Wal-Mart Supercenter open here in Turlock? Turlock may never have a Wal-Mart Supercenter because every city or town around us will have one and Turlockers will just go spend their money there. Turlock may not even have our current Wal-Mart if this ever happens.
Turlock doesn’t need a Wal-Mart Supercenter. Turlock doesn’t need jobs. Turlock doesn’t need increased sales tax revenue. Turlock doesn’t need local dollar retention.
Turlock doesn’t need our local government trying to control the competitive market place. The Big Box Ordinance didn’t help Liberty Market or Mervyn’s. The ordinance wouldn’t have helped previous Turlock businesses such as Albertson’s or K-Mart and it wasn’t/hasn’t been needed to keep National Market open after all these years.
A Turlock Wal-Mart Supercenter is about supply and demand in a competitive market. If people are supporting the regular Wal-Mart store now and will support a Wal-Mart Supercenter if it opens, then the debate on whether Wal-Mart is good or bad seems to be about consumers’ trends and social issues.
The City of Turlock needs to be more business friendly, welcome businesses and sales tax revenue contributors such as a Wal-Mart Supercenter (not fight it), and lobby for stores like the Apple store opening in Modesto.
Turlockers need to support businesses they want to stay open by spending money there. If you like the specialty shops and restaurants downtown, spend your money there.

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