Less than two weeks after the San Marcos, California City Council narrowly approved a rezoning for a 139,000 s.f. Wal-Mart supercenter, opponents are gathering signatures to put the decision before voters. San Marcos already has one Wal-Mart, but the company wants to leave that store behind for a larger superstore. More than 200 area residents met over the past weekend to begin organizing for a ballot referendum. “We are here today to plan an attack on this unwanted, big-box development,” organizer Lori Drake told the County Times. “We want people to commit to getting signatures for the referendum.” The store would be located on roughly 20 acres of land that borders the community of Carlsbad. But before the supercenter is built, road widening work must be completed, so actual construction could be nine months or more away. But the Citizens for Responsible Growth intend to see that the project never gets that far. “Wal-Mart would be 570 feet from the nearest house,” one resident noted. “How would you like to have Wal-Mart traffic right by where your children are?” “We are going to unwrite that law,” the newspaper quoted Bob Glaser, a political consultant, as telling residents. “We’re going to unwrite it so there is no Wal-Mart.” The CRG must now collect 2,700 signatures by September 11th in order to put the measure before the voters in March, 2004. Unlike Wal-Mart, which might hire signature gatherers to go door-to-door, CRG plans to do it the honest way: with their own volunteer residents.”We hope to get 4,400 signatures so we have a good margin of error,” Drake added. “This issue is really about the City Council not doing its job and representing the people they’re supposed to represent. We hope people recognize that this is part of a bigger problem, where our representatives aren’t being fair and honest with us, the people who put them there.”
San Marcos will become the latest in a growing line of California communities that has been the location of big box referendums. In Eureka, for example, Wal-Mart put itself on the ballot, and lost by a 62% vote against them. But the company depends on a large wash of funding to “buy” its way at the ballot box. In some communities, Wal-Mart has spent between a quarter and a half a million dollars to woo voters. Wal-Mart may have money, but CRG has to rely on troops. For other referendum votes regarding Wal-Mart, search this database by “voter” or “ballot”. For earlier stories on San Marcos, search by the name of the town. For more local information, go to www.sanmarcosgrowth.org.