Even though no residents spoke in favor of a 139,000 s.f. Wal-Mart supercenter in south San Marcos, California — the second Wal-Mart in this city — the City Council voted 3-2 to approve rezoning residential land to commercial for the huge retailer. The City Manager promised area residents that the current traffic gridlock along the site location would be improved by the city over the next nine months, but residents remained adamantly opposed to the project, and right after the vote, began discussing placing the rezoning question on the city ballot for voters to decide. The rezoning could also be appealed to the California courts. The city claimed the project would bring in from $350,000 to $500,000 in new sales taxes — but this does not count any offsetting loss in sales as other retailers go out of business. New Wal-Mart projects are often a net loser for a community, because they bring no added value to the trade area, and what they sell is already being sold nearby. Residents in neighboring Carlsbad, some of whom are close enough to have Wal-Mart as a night light, also vowed to fight on. The Citizens for Responsible Growth, who presented testimony on traffic,environmental, and other impacts, said the vote was a “done deal”, and that the Mayor and two councilors were influenced by political insiders working for the developer.
Residents say the San Marcos fight is far from over, but expressed digust with the City Councilors who ignored the overwhelming testimony presented against the project. For the perspective of the citizens fighting the Wal-Mart, go to www.sanmarcosgrowth.org. Donations in the on-going battle will be needed by CRG. In many states, by the way, rezoning votes require a two-thirds supermajority. Check your zoning code for rezoning rules.