Big Retailers Could Be Banned From L.A.'s Chinatown [UPDATED]
An ordinance that will be put to a vote Tuesday during the Los Angeles City Council meeting could halt plans for a Wal-Mart to open in Chinatown.
The ordinance, first introduced in March 2012, calls for a temporary prohibition of the establishment of new Formula Retail Uses which are 20,000 square feet or larger in portions of Chinatown generally bounded by the 110 Pasadena Freeway to the west, Sunset Boulevard and Cesar Chavez Avenue to the south, Main and Alameda Streets to the east, and Cottage Home Street to the north.
The proposed ordinance went to the city's Planning Commission, who did not approve the item, and it is now headed back for a full council vote.
Wal-Mart set their sights on the Chinatown location, and revealed intentions earlier this year to build a 33,000-square-foot small format grocery store there. Groups immediately mobilized to voice objection to the plans, but Wal-Mart has stood their ground. Wal-Mart's Senior Director of Community Affairs Steven V. Restivo told LAist in an email the "Neighborhood Market will serve as a new option for customers who want access to a broad assortment of affordable groceries," adding that the new grocery is "an opportunity to revive the vacant property" in Chinatown, "is in line with [Wal-Mart's] sustainability goals and will help deliver an added economic boost to the area."
In the initial motion, submitting City Councilman Ed Reyes explains:
There is a need to protect Chinatown's historically significant resources, including its vibrant small business sector, which supports the needs of local residents and are compatible with the neighborhood; create a supportive environment for new small business innovations; and preserve and enhance existing neighborhood-serving retail uses and future opportunities for resident employment, and business ownership.
UPDATE: Following public comment from supporters and detractors, as well as lengthier remarks in favor of and in opposition to the motion by several councilmembers, the council ultimately opted to delay action on the ordinance, and said they would take up the matter at the next meeting.