The residents of Glendora, California (see 9/15/99 newsflash below) will have a chance to Slam Dunk Wal-Mart and Home Depot at the same time on March 7th. When the City Council was unable to muster enough votes to pass the “Glendora Marketplace”, which is located right across the road from an existing Wal-Mart on 48 acres of land that was once a strawberry field, they put the project’s future into the hands of voters. A NO vote on “Measure D” will defeat the project, which threatens to add 26,730 more cars each day to Lone Hill Avenue and nearby streets. The citizens’ group, Glendora First, has pointed out that right in the middle of this land are two acres of publicly owned roadway, which they say city officials were prepared to virtually give away to Wal-Mart. Developers have created a pro-Wal-Mart group called the Citizens for a Better Glendora. According to campaign finance reports, the group is a front group for another front group called “California Retailers and Commercial Builders”. None of these “citizens” live in Glendora, and the group is bankrolled by Wal-Mart and Home Depot. These corporate interests have begun an expensive lobbying effort to try and “buy” votes in Glendora. But residents say the “pride of the Foothills” is not for sale. The special interests promoting the project are relying on financial fear tactics to promote Measure D. “Without the Glendora Marketplace,” says one flier, “our city will be in a dangerous position.” Glendora First points out that when Wal-Mart came to the city, sales tax revenues remained flat, around 13% of total city revenues. The promised bump up in sales tax collections never materialized. The group also says that Glendora’s financial position is stronger than most local communities around it. The city has over $40 million in the bank, and no city services are in jeopardy. They say the D in Measure D stands for the “Desperation” emanating from City Hall. Developers allege the city assured them the land deal would go through, and even publicly threatened last September that the city “risks substantial liability if it refuses to approve the project.” Opposition to the project has been led by the two most recently elected City Councilors, Dick Jacobs and John Harrold. Both men refused to vote for the project when it came before the Council, and have been active in canvassing voters to stop Measure D. Once known as the “Smog Capital”, Glendora has done much over the years to restore air quality and the liveability of the city. The sprawl-mart project will require a 12 foot high wall one-quarter of a mile long to “hide” it from nearby homes. “This project is not a shot in the arm for our economy,” concludes Glendora First, “but a shot in the head.” The Mayor of Glendora, by the way, is a big Wal-Mart booster. Yet in his Welcoming message on the city’s website, he touts the city’s “charming downtown village and owner-operated retail stores.” It’s hard to see how this community of 52,000 people would enhance it’s “remarkable and unique” quality of life by overdosing the market with big box stores, and some prominent local downtown stores have recently been boarded up.
When Mayor Larry Glenn found out that I was coming to speak in Glendora, he told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune: “He should stay home. I think the only way they can win is to lie about it. So good luck.” It could be that the Mayor inadvertantly disclosed the campaign play-book of Wal-Mart and Home Depot on Measure D: Lie About It. It was hardly a welcome befitting the top official in city government, but symptomatic of what is happening in Glendora. Anyone wishing to let the Mayor of Glendora know how they feel about choking the streets with cars and running down the value of residential property, you can email the Mayor by going to www.ci.glendora.ca.us. Tell him how you feel about the Glendora Marketplace and Measure D. To provide financial support or other assistance to Glendora First, see their website: www.glendorafirst.org, or call (616) 946-2763. Measure D will be decided on March 7th, the same day that voters in Huntington Beach, CA will consider a similar anti-Wal-Mart initiative (see next newsflash).