Opponents of a Walmart in Burbank have lost a potential weapon in their fight after Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto of a bill that would have required economic-impact reports on how big-box stores would affect the local economy.
Brown said Senate Bill 469 by Sen. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) would have added an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy.
“Plenty of laws are already on the books that enable and, in some cases, require cities and counties to carefully assess whether these projects are in the community’s best interest,” Brown said in his veto message.
Public outcry has been mounting against a planned Walmart at the former Great Indoors site near the Empire Center in Burbank, a heavily trafficked area that already hosts a Costco, Target, Lowe’s and other big-box stores.
Kate Nixa, one of the organizers of the local anti-Walmart campaign, said her group is not deterred by the governor’s veto.
“I had hoped Gov. Brown would have seen that big business needs to be more responsible and respectful, but instead, he says that they already have so many hoops to go through,” Nixa said. “Right. Because it was so difficult for Walmart to buy the Great Indoors space. It's all becoming the same lie to me.”
Her group will still ask the city to prepare an economic-impact report before Walmart can open, Nixa added.
“The fact that they say a report for the Great Indoors is comparable to Walmart is unacceptable,” she said, adding that in terms of traffic and mission, “they couldn't be more different.”
Greg Herrmann, Burbank’s community development director, said the City Council cannot require an economic-impact report for the new Walmart.
Not only is the building zoned for commercial use, but the property is part of an entitlement the city approved in the 1990s, which allows a big-box store on the site, Herrmann said. Even though the Empire Center’s owner sold the property to Sears in late 2000 to open the Great Indoors, the entitlement stays with the property, he added.
Walmart officials will host a meeting from 5 to 8 p.m. at the former Great Indoors site, 1301 N. Victory Place, to hear from the public and share information about the company.
For more information, call (818) 319-4414 or visit www.walmartcommunity.com.