Pedestrians walk through an old section of Chinatown in Los Angeles, California. Credit: David McNew/Getty Images
The Los Angeles City Council on March 23 voted to adopt a proposal from Councilman Ed Reyes to temporarily ban the construction of large retail chains in Chinatown. But the vote couldn’t stop plans for a Walmart grocery store in Chinatown because hours before, the big box conglomerate had already received permission from the city’s Department of Building and Safety to build the store.
Disappointed by the news, Reyes said he’d hoped his moratorium would help the neighborhood to protect itself against projects that were out of character with the needs of the community. Labor unions and advocacy groups were also angered by Walmart’s proposed project.
The Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, an organization that condemns Walmart non-union workforce and low-end pay scale, and other labor advocacy groups are appealing the decision to permit the planned grocery store in Chinatown. They say it’s an attempt to circumvent an existing city ordinance that prevents Walmart from expanding a big box retail outlet in Los Angeles. LAANE is seeking to review the permitting process to make sure no errors were made.
Eight years ago, the council approved an ordinance that would make it difficult to build a Walmart Superstore with a grocery that exceeds 100,000 square feet, but because this new market in Chinatown is going into an already existing retail space, council approval was not needed. Should Wal-Mart be allowed to build a grocery store in Chinatown?
James Elmendorf, LAANE’s Deputy Director
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