The community of Wildomar, California is an unincorporated community that wants to become California’s newest city. For its main attraction the future-city wants to be known as the home of something unique: a Wal-Mart supercenter. The community says it “offers small-town charm with easy access to shopping, cultural activities, entertainment and recreation.” Located in the heart of Southern California’s rapidly-growing Inland Empire, Wildomar is a naturally scenic region and offers an excellent geographic proximity to the Los Angeles, Orange, Inland Empire and San Diego markets. According to the 2000 Census, Wildomar had a population of 14,064 at the 2000 census. The area south of Lake Elsinore and west of the I-15 freeway is made up of large ranches and large custom homes and open land for horses. To the east of I-15, hundreds of new homes are being built. The area promotes itself as “a popular destination for young families seeking affordable housing.” According to the Press Enterprise newspaper, the people pushing for Wildomar to become its own city, are simultaneously pushing a new Wal-Mart supercenter as its main revenue source. A consultant has told locals that if the supercenter is built, it will bring in $500,000 a year in tax revenue, which is worth $2.95 per person per month in Wildomar, or $35 a year — and that’s before city expenses for police and fire protection. Wildomar residents have been given a green light to vote on incorporation by Riverside County supervisors. Only the date has to be set. But the newspaper says not everyone in Wildomar wants to found their city on Wal-Mart revenue. A group of neighbors along Bundy Canyon Road are opposed to the massive 240,000 s.f. facility near Interstate 15. The neighbors say that incorporation proponents are using the Wal-Mart as a way to make incorporation more palatable. “We do not want the community referred to as ‘WaldoMart,’ ” resident Beryl Yasinosky wrote to the head of Riverside County’s local boundary formation commission. But the proponents of cityhood claim that incorporation should happen even if Wal-Mart bails out. “I am not sitting here fretting that it’s all over for us if Wal-Mart doesn’t come in,” said a member of Wildomar Incorporation Now. Wal-Mart is reportedly seeking to build supercenters not only in Wildomar, but in nearby Temecula, Murrieta, Menifee and Lake Elsinore. Gatlin Development, a San Diego construction company, has submitted environmental plans for a superstore on Bundy Canyon Road. Although Wal-Mart has not admitted it, the 240,000 s.f. footprint can only be Wal-Mart. The economic consultant reported that Wildomar could still survive economically for at least the first decade. “If you take Wal-Mart away from Wildomar you still have a viable city,” he said. What a relief!
Cityhood proponents paid for an economic report that examined the first 10 years of revenue and expenses for the proposed city. The consultant who was hired to do the financial study included a mall with 600,000 s.f. of retail space, including a big-box superstore on Bundy Canyon Road. The report said the superstore would bring in $500,000 in gross sales-tax revenue, but the newspaper did not cite the expense of the project. Wal-Mart opponents said the study was just a ploy to help the cityhood question get on the city’s ballot. Opponents say the Wal-Mart is being used “as the proverbial revenue ‘flagship’ for the fledgling city,” and said such a plan “is impulsive and certainly premature.” “We are not in competition with other cities for Wal-Mart,” said the cityhood proponent. “We can have one in Menifee, one in Wildomar. We don’t have any problem with that because these are supercenters. People will be coming to the store to shop for groceries.” Wal-Mart, which has reached the point of saturation in most U.S. markets, would not reveal how many stores it plans for the southern California region, except to say, “We are committed to growth in this region.” Readers are urge to contact the 5-member Riverside County Planning Commission, by emailing their Secretary Sophia Nolasco at: [email protected], or calling them at 951-066-3251. Give them this message: “Please reject the Gatlin plan for a huge Wal-Mart supercenter. The local area is already saturated with superstores, and these big stores only steal sales from existing merchants, so the net bottom line is not that positive. This is about market share for Wal-Mart, and should have no bearing on the strength of proposed cityhood for Wildomar. The future city needs real economic development — but all Wal-Mart means is economic displacement. When you do the full environmental impact review, you will see that Wal-Mart is all rhetoric, and little revenue.”