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About this blog: A longtime newspaperman, I have been editor of the Pleasanton Weekly since it was launched Jan. 28, 2000. I was a reporter and Neighborhood News editor at the Chicago Tribune for 13 years, and previously a reporter for the Advance...  (More)

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Wal-Mart eyeing old Nob Hill for new 'Market'

Uploaded: Jul 14, 2011
Wal-Mart eyeing old Nob Hill for new 'Market'

Wal-Mart, the country's largest retailer, is seeking a Pleasanton city permit to open one of its new "Neighborhood Market" grocery stores in the vacant 33,000-square-foot supermarket space once occupied by Nob Hill. And already opponents are out in force.

Actually, nothing in the schematics submitted to city planners identifies the applicant as Wal-Mart (although one planner said a small section of the multi-page submittal once did), but it's rather an ambiguous engineering firm specifying changes that could take place to existing water, sewer and electrical lines and fixtures still in place.

Nob Hill, a unit of Raley's, Inc., closed its doors a year ago at 3112 Santa Rita Rd., located in the Santa Rita Square shopping center at the southeast corner of Santa Rita and West Los Positas Boulevard. Since then, 99 Ranch, an Asian market, and British-owned Fresh & Easy have opened grocery stores in the nearby Rose Pavilion.

Nob Hill was granted an operating permit in 1980. It had no pharmacy and was open 16 hours a day. Any grocer would need only a business license to re-open the store with the same operating provisions without seeking new costly, time-consuming an--in Wal-Mart's case--likely controversial permit approvals from the Pleasanton planning commission or City Council.

Those restrictions that applied to Nob Hill might just meet Wal-Mart's conditions. It already has longer operating hours at its regular store about a mile away at 4501 Rosewood Drive, where it has a pharmacy. Its new Neighborhood Market concept focuses on solely low-cost groceries and household products, although most include a pharmacy.

Bypassing the structured city approval process could help Wal-Mart open a Neighborhood Market much more quickly in Pleasanton. Two on the City Council--Mayor Jennifer Hosterman and Councilman Matt Sullivan—have been outspoken critics of Wal-Mart's non-union business plan and opposed the Rosewood Drive Wal-Mart's application to enlarge its garden shop and add a storage facility. Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio, a member of the teachers' union, no doubt has similar views.

By simply resuming business in the former Nob Hill building with no changes that would trigger a public review of Nob Hill's already approved operating license, Wal-Mart could get started and wait to see if a more favorable political climate surfaces at City Hall. Both Hosterman and Sullivan are termed out next November (along with Councilwoman Cindy McGovern), opening three seats on the council that will be installed in December 2012.

But an outside group of activists wants to block Wal-Mart before it even announces its intentions. They are sending email messages to residents in the Santa Rita Square marketing area warning that "A Wal-Mart Store is coming...and you don't have a say about it!" It urges the public to demand an environmental impact review (EIR) to force a public hearing on the basis that a Wal-Mart grocery could increase traffic.

"Tell our council that you want a say when a big box store wants to open next to our homes!" the message continues.

Using the URL www.OurPleasanton.org, the web site might just as easily carry the name "Providence," since that is where it's located. When the site is accessed, the link automatically goes to Citizens Speak, an email advocacy service for grassroots organizations based in Providence, R.I. It apparently is effective. Serving community and labor advocacy groups for one-time issue-oriented actions and described as "the MoveOn.org for the rest of us," Citizens Speak won the Webby Award in 2006 for its "vision" and "superior quality."

As for Wal-Mart, it introduced its Neighborhood Markets in 1998. These stores range in size from about 40,000 square to much less, which would make the Nob Hill site suitable for one of its smaller markets. By comparison, Safeway's new Lifestyle Supermarket under construction at Bernal and Valley avenues across from the Fairgrounds will have 58,000 square feet of operating space.

These smaller markets, according to Wal-Mart, are meant to attract customers with easier parking, less crowded aisles and quicker checkout. They offer a variety of products, including a full line of groceries, including a bakery, dairy, deli, frozen foods, meat and seafood, produce and snacks, just what you'd expect from a small neighborhood market.

So what's the fuss?

Comments

Posted by NoWAY, a resident of Birdland,
on Jul 14, 2011 at 9:18 pm

A second Walmart!! How low can we go? Why must we settle for the lowest common denominator? I guess Pleasanton isn't classy enough for a Whole Foods. It's nice being the Alabama of Bay Area cities.


Posted by Tennessee Willy, a resident of Civic Square,
on Jul 14, 2011 at 9:23 pm

What's wrong with Alabama? They've got two great football teams.


Posted by RB, a resident of Vineyard Hills,
on Jul 15, 2011 at 4:11 am

" Build it and they will come....." The guetto that is.


Posted by Morris, a resident of Danbury Park,
on Jul 15, 2011 at 7:06 am

I'm giddy with anticipation over the architectural specs. This is a great moment in history.


Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill,
on Jul 15, 2011 at 7:19 am

A Whole Foods market would have been nice. The nearest one is in San Ramon and the nearest one south of us is in Cupertino. Seems like Pleasanton would be a natural location to consider if Whole Foods is looking to expand. Still, it's been a year since Nob Hill market closed and even a Wal-Mart neighborhood market would be better than nothing.


Posted by Curly, a resident of Foothill Farms,
on Jul 15, 2011 at 7:46 am

I love WalMart, especially around 3 in the morning. I like to go and watch the oldsters on their hands and knees frantically stocking the shelves. It's like the fourth ring of Dante's inferno for these lost and abject souls. Makes me feel so uplifted to know that capitalism works for these minimum wage-earning people. I'd rather, though, that the minimum wage be removed. It would allow the oldsters to negotiate as free agents with management for a lower wage.


Posted by steve, a resident of Parkside,
on Jul 15, 2011 at 8:47 am

Whole Foods is quant and way overpriced. Is no one here glad a vacant building is now going to be occupied, bringing in tax revenue and employing folks locally? Where are you priorities? Is the hubhub over big, nasty WalMart driven by spiteful union hacks who can't find a way to organize within this company, to become the cancer they breed in other union shops?


Posted by woggut, a resident of Pleasanton Valley,
on Jul 15, 2011 at 2:44 pm

I would like to see the Trader Joe's move into the Nob Hill site. Parking is always an issue, and the store is on the small side.


Posted by Morris, a resident of Danbury Park,
on Jul 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Egypt has its pyramids, India its Taj Mahal, and France its Eiffel Tower, all symbolizing their greatness. We've got our WalMarts. USA! USA! USA!


Posted by steve, a resident of Parkside,
on Jul 15, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Good idea, woggut. That Trader Joe's parking lot is like going to the Demolition Derby---it's an insurance adjuster's dream.


Posted by Proud Texan, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Jul 15, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Never shop at Traders. They don't carry my favorite potato chips and soda. Prefer the WalMart because they really try to help the community. The sooner we become like Arkansas and Texas the better off we'll all be.


Posted by Frances, a resident of Del Prado,
on Jul 15, 2011 at 4:33 pm

I would be glad to see a Walmart market. Maybe it would be a place us 'oldsters' on fixed incomes could afford to buy groceries. Safeway and Luckys just gets higher and higher.
Yeah there is a lot of negatives about Walmart, but when you are living on a fixed income, saving any way you can is a must.


Posted by Curly, a resident of Foothill Farms,
on Jul 15, 2011 at 11:45 pm

Frances ... If you're young enough to type on this site, you're young enough to work. Instead of feeding us the typical entitlement group sob story, why don't you go out and find a job. I hear WalMart is always looking for someone to stock their shelves on the midnight shift.


Posted by Frances, a resident of Del Prado,
on Jul 16, 2011 at 2:36 pm

If you're young enough to type on this site.....what the heck does that mean. Young enough??? Wasn't aware there were age considerations here.
And just so you know, I DO have a job. I work in admissions at San Ramon Med Center. Not that it's any of your business anyway.


Posted by Curly, a resident of Foothill Farms,
on Jul 16, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Frances, my most sincere apologies. I mistakenly thought you were one of those entitlement group crybabies who moan about their fixed incomes and want us all to feel sorry for them. One of my pet peeves is all these "oldsters" complaining about how their incomes are fixed by social security and their other entitlement checks. I personally feel all people no matter what age should work until they drop. Period. Exclamation Point! No more government hand-outs with my tax dollars!


Posted by Frances, a resident of Del Prado,
on Jul 16, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Curly, apology accepted.


Posted by Ptown Dad, a resident of Amador Estates,
on Jul 17, 2011 at 6:36 am

It will be good to have that grocery location open again. Wal Mart would be great because they have low prices and a great selection. I also wish Trader Joe's had seen fit to open a bigger store in that location but I guess they didn't see it as viable.


Posted by Another Ptown Dad, a resident of California Reflections,
on Jul 17, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I also like the idea of having another WalMart in the area. I really like their labor practices, and they really have an excellent record in dealing with minority groups.


Occasionally I get a severe dizzy spell from all the chemicals in the air. I thought it was on account of all the packaging, but my physician said more likely it was the chemicals in all the products from China. He said the Chinese make two batches of toys: those that are relatively chemical free that they send to Europe and Australia where chemical-laced toys aren't permitted; and those that are saturated in chemicals and that are cheaper to make and easy to sell to Walmart on account of the lack of prohibitions on chemicals in kids' toys coming into the US. At any rate, the produce section might be okay, but I'd stay away from eyeliner and eyeshadow ... and be careful about getting your daughter a 'make-up' kit. My sister opened up a package and fainted from the chemical explosion she got.

Other than that, I love Walmart. Just wear a particle mask while you stroll the cement floors and you'll be fine. Can't beat the prices!


Posted by Blossom, a resident of Stoneridge Orchards,
on Jul 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm

@Another Ptown dad........

Why should I care about their being chemicles in your kids toys? The main thing is food prices, and Dr. Scholes foot inserts. I'd sleep in a pesticide factory if thats what it took to get dollar discounts on Doritoes and Bonbons.


Posted by Steve, a resident of Parkside,
on Jul 17, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Ok, you goofy elitist posters, go shop at wHole Foods and get gouged for the same products, if it allays your guilt. Common sense rules over the rest of us. Go patronize your favorite union establishment. It will benefit only those union thugs you so admire that bleed businesses dry.


Posted by A Neighbor, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Jul 17, 2011 at 8:08 pm

I am deeply troubled by the attempt on the part of Walmart and their architects to slip this by the community by submitting for approvals anonymously. The site is already approved as a market, yes, but why the secrecy? Why did Walmart not identify themselves as the proposed tenant?
I do not shop at any Walmart because of their labor practices and their relationship with Chinese manufacturers and suppliers. It is simply wrong to support a corporation with their negative record on humanitarian issues.
Their behavior in this case can only continue to build ill-will in communities all around the country and reinforce the public perception that Walmart is not a good corporate citizen.


Posted by Blossom, a resident of Stoneridge Orchards,
on Jul 17, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Thanks Steven, I allways agree with what you say,. Does Whole Foods sell toys from China? I didn't no!


Posted by Boner, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Jul 17, 2011 at 8:37 pm

I would love an Walmart in that area. Since Nob Hill closed down the only places in town are Safeway (inconvenient, no parking, and way over priced) and Albertson's (not much of a selection). I guess it is lost on most of you that Walmart is opening up two stores in Safeway's backyard.............can anyone say competition???? By the way Blossom, I bet most of whatever car you drive is made in China.


Posted by Blossom, a resident of Stoneridge Orchards,
on Jul 17, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Sometimes the deep coments just leave me scraching my head. Does Whole Foods sell cars now? What about Walmart? And what about the chemicles in the Chinese car I'm driving?


Posted by Mickey, a resident of another community,
on Jul 18, 2011 at 6:59 am

As I read through the comments,some which make me chuckle, I can see the citizen of Pleasanton do have a sense of humor. Please check out Walmarts business practices, and see if you agree with them.

Web Link

If so, shop there. I totally understand the need for lower prices, as I too am a full-time worker still need to do this too. I would not want a Walmart right next to my home. Granted this would bring jobs to the area, but they would be part-time and at minimum wage with no benefits. I know it is impossible to live in Pleasanton, or the surrounding area making only minimum wage. This creates the working class poor. Good Luck. Choose wisely.


Posted by Old Time Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Jul 18, 2011 at 8:57 am

I too miss Nob Hill and would welcome anyone opening a grocery store there. Walmart is at least an American company. Trader Joes is own by a private German company, Fresh & Easy owned by a huge British conglomerate Tesco (6th largest company in the world according to Fortune magazine). Whole Foods imports a lot of frozen foods from China (according to an ABC report), Safeway is also huge (207th largest company in the WORLD), so there are no perfect choices. Yes, Walmart is the largest company in the world, but at least it is home grown.


Posted by steve, a resident of Parkside,
on Jul 18, 2011 at 9:11 am

Blossom-what are these chemicles from China you referred to? Some secret plot by our debtholders to bring us under their control? Why the racist attitude against our Asian brethern? That's not the typical bleeding heart liberal attitude of acceptance that the libs have tried to indoctrinate us with. I'm so disappointed to find out we don't accept every race; but I suppose hypocrisy is part of the leftist philosophy.


Posted by still sober, a resident of Downtown,
on Jul 18, 2011 at 9:13 am

Maybe one should ask how Walmart became the largest company in the world. What has enabled it to have one of the worst labor practices records in the western world. Could it be its gaggle of lobbiests on capitol hill and the huge contributions it makes to the GOP?


Posted by Seriously?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Jul 18, 2011 at 9:22 am

If the City approves this they are nuts! If it actually happens, they will have alientated a good portion of the (ahem)... VOTERS.


Posted by Philosopher Freddy, a resident of Deer Oaks/Twelve Oaks,
on Jul 18, 2011 at 9:39 am

The world IS Walmart. Learn to live with it. Prepare your kids for it. Give them a Walmart education so they can survive in Wally's World with a Walmart frame of mind.


Posted by Dave, a resident of Birdland,
on Jul 18, 2011 at 10:47 am

They have to approve the request. If for whatever reason they were to deny it then Walmart would just take Pleasanton to court and win. Can anyone say affordable housing???????? Might as well accept it because we need to jobs anyway.


Posted by Narcissa, a resident of Castlewood Heights,
on Jul 18, 2011 at 10:58 am

I've already prepared my kids for a walmart world. One is a successful accountant and the other is a successful computer consultant. They're both good with numbers, and like I always told them, just move people around like you would numbers on a page. Always worked for me. Like me my kids were never readers. But in Wallyworld reading isn't really required. It's all about doing the numbers, baby!


Posted by Leon Fenton, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Jul 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Thank you for your unbaised report on the Walmart grocery store in our neighborhood. We,the "neighbors" would be extremely pleased to have a Walmart Neighborhood Market locate in the old Nob Hill location. We are tired of having to get in our cars and drive half way across town for milk or bread. We miss Nob Hill and a quick walk to the market for essentials. We need a plain 'ol market for shopping where there are competitive prices. There are specialty stores (but not in walking distance) such as Fresh & Easy, Trader Joe's and 99 Market. We will occasionally shop there for specific items but generally must drive much further for better prices for basics.

Also,thank you for the information of the organized opposition with the URL www.ourpleasanton.org being based in Providence, R.I.!! I also see the people filling out their form of protest to this Walmart grocery store are residents of other neighborhoods in the city not the Meadows area. Of course they would not be impacted by the store.

And we are very disturbed to see that our mayor, Jennifer Hosterman, councilman Matt Sullivan, and councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio are opposing this market. After all, it would be no different than when the Nob Hill was there just another name on the front. I suspect they are among the Walmart "haters" (like a niece of mine) who believe anything Walmart does is wrong or bad. Their success alone proves they are providing a much desired service and should be applauded.


Posted by Boner, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Jul 19, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Leon Fenton,

Hostermann is super pro union I believe, Sullivan is in the teachers union as is Kallio-Cook and/or her husband so I suspect they may have a different agenda here.


Posted by Your Friendly American Neighbor, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Jul 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm

I don't want to hear all about Wally's unfair labor practices and reliance on sweatshop labor in getting their products to the shelves. If Walmart wants its subcontractors to use child labor, that's their business. How does that have anything to do with me. All I care about it how close the store is. To me.


Posted by Boner, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Jul 19, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Next time you are in Safeway take a look at the where produced language on the label and you will be surprised. For that matter open up your drivers side door and look at the label where assembled and you will be amazed at home many Chevrolets are made in China using the slave labor you describe.


Posted by YFAN, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Jul 19, 2011 at 2:06 pm

I don't own a Chevy, so why should I care? Anyways, anyone who owns a Chevy qualifies as dumb in my book. I only buy Jap or German cars. And besides, Walmart doesn't sell cars yet.


Posted by Paulette Kenyon, a resident of Val Vista,
on Jul 22, 2011 at 11:54 am

I also miss having a store there when I have errands in that area of town. My vote would be for our city to initiate a courtship with Lunardi's. They have wonderful markets! Their produce is usually local, fresh, many organics at good prices, and their prices generally are competitive. My parents shop at Lunardi's all the time where they live across the Bay. I think there is one in Danville. But, some of their locations are smaller - like the Nob Hill location - like the one my parents shop at. Walmart's meat and produce comes from who knows where? They have a terrible reputation when it comes to workers; so, I don't trust their food either. I hope our city can show a little chutzpah and go after a market chain that will live up to our expectations for a market. Lunardi's is that chain. Second choice would be a small Whole Foods or Molly Stone.


Posted by just sayin", a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Jul 22, 2011 at 3:10 pm

I don't think Wal-Mart needs approval to go into that space since a grocery store was already there. The only exception would be if they want to modify what Nob Hill had, i.e. 24 hour store. I don't believe the Council can reject them. I'm not crazy about a Wal-Mart either, but it is better than it being a vacant building. I don't quite understand all of the hate about Wal-Mart in particular. Is Target any better? It's still cheap stuff made in China. Yes, Wal-Mart is non-union but so are a lot of other stores. I believe Raley's/Nob Hill are still non-union, but not completely sure, as is Target, Macy's, and most retail stores.


Posted by Union campaign $$$$, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Jul 22, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Leon, I understand you would like an affordable neighborhood market where you could walk. You should be allowed to have that. When I was a kid, I use to walk to my neighborhood market. I think it's neat that WalMart is going into neighborhood markets. I would also be happpy with a Whole Foods.
But, that is not the issue... political careers of the union activists on the council are the issue. Some already have their next political campaign ready, which means demonstrating intense loyalty to unions in general, for the purpose of gaining union support in campaigning and in $$$$ contributions.


Posted by Union campaign $$$$, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Jul 22, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Paulette is bringing in Lundardi's to the conversation....so we don't switch to Whole Foods... big problem, so many of them love Whole Foods, but would substitute a whole foods TYPE of store.....since WF is also all NON-union like WalMart,
Aw shucks, what a bind. As for myslef, I'll go with Whole Foods, a much, much
better store,stronger and more conpetent operation that Lunardi's.
I probably would campaign for WF a bit more than WM, tho both are OK with me. A TJs relocation would be my first choice,,,just for PArking, would be my first vote. But I don't think they'd give up their freeway location, which serves both Dublin and Pleasanton.


Posted by Been There, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Jul 22, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Lunardi's would be great and so would Whole Foods. I think Walmart will really hurt housing values.


Posted by Really?, a resident of Fairlands Elementary School,
on Jul 25, 2011 at 8:11 am

Do the unions really help these days? I think this is an excuse to keep Walmart from opening up. Why not let them open up and provide jobs. From some of the views it is sad that walmart and ghetto are the comparison. Pleasanton has really done a poor job at utilizing the land and businesses that exist already and then we get picky on a business wanted to populate a VACANT building? Hmmmmmm who will provide the potential taxes Walmart and/or other businesses provide?

How many grocery stores are in the South-end of Pleasanton? It has taken how long to break ground on the Safeway off Bernal...

As Pleasanton $'s are spent in Dublin due to short sided thinking and poor incentive for businesses to open and expand in Pleasanton.


Posted by Mal, a resident of Danbury Park,
on Aug 25, 2011 at 8:10 am

Hopefully if walmart sneaks in they will modify the parking lot to allow for overnight parking of all those rv's , trailers, and taxi cabs that seem to end up at all the other walmarts for days and weeks on end


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