Residents in Hemet, California have become the latest community in the state to raise a fuss over a Wal-Mart. Here is a report from the scene: “In July of 2003, we attended a Planning Commission meeting in Hemet. We were concerned about a parcel of land that was going to be developed, which had residential homes on two sides. We asked if a Wal-Mart would be built there, and were told they didn’t know what was going to be built. In December, it was announced that a Super Wal-Mart was coming, and we have gone door to door getting signatures, voicing our opposition, trying to raise money for the lawyer we have hired. Our city made an extremely terrible decision in allowing this behemoth to be built directly behind and adjacent to homes.” As of today, the steel girders are already up for this store, but on March 10th, residents filed a lawsuit in Riverside Superior Court to stop the store. The suit is against the city, the developer, and Wal-Mart. One city Councilman told Press-Enterprise newspaper, “I wish there was some way we could help these people understand that this is a good thing for the valley.” The group has hired Temecula, California-based lawyer Ray Johnson, who has sued Wal-Mart before on behalf of residents. “The goal is to minimize the impact of Wal-Mart on the people,” Johnson said. “If that means no Wal-Mart, so be it.” The attorney said residents were misled into believing the shopping center would be have less impact than a supercenter. “The company sold the city a Lexus, and delivered a Yugo,” he said. The city also should have produced an environmental impact study, which was not done according to California law. The city is also subsidizing Wal-Mart by paying for roadway improvements that the retailer should have covered — a typical pattern of corporate welfare for Wal-Mart.
The Wal-Mart freedom-fighters in Hemet admit “we are a small group and need all the support we can get.” To offer help or money, please email residents at [email protected]