Protests, mainly from organized labor groups that oppose Walmart business policies, filled the City Council chamber in the Pleasanton Civic Center last month when the issue was discussed. City planners, expecting a larger crowd this time, decided to hold the meeting in the larger arts center auditorium.
Union organizers have put out a call to grocery and other union locals to attend Monday's meeting to demonstrate their objections to allowing a Walmart market here, which would be the first of four under consideration in the East Bay.
At the same time, shop owners in Meadow Plaza at West Las Positas Boulevard and Santa Rita Road, where Walmart would take over the former and now vacant Nob Hill supermarket building, are petitioning other businesses and neighborhood residents to demonstrate their support for the Walmart store at the meeting.
Although the two sides will face off once again Monday, it's not clear just what the Planning Commission's options are. Walmart's application already has been approved by the city's zoning administrator who determined that the proposed market matches the footprint of the Nob Hill store, which the city approved in 1982. The planned unit development approved at the time stays with the property, meaning that a similar use operation can reopen the same type of business under the same operating permit.
Both City Manager Nelson Fialho and the city's Economic Director Pamela Ott told Realtors and their associates at recent meetings of the Valley Real Estate Network that Walmart can move into the Nob Hill site without further permits or public agency approvals. Fialho said that after all of the current protest meetings are finished, Walmart should be able to complete its on-site work to open by mid-summer.
Monday's meeting is not billed as a public hearing but rather just that, a meeting. It follows promises by some members of the City Council to give anyone with a view on the proposed Walmart market a chance to speak publicly. If the Planning Commission decides to accept the zoning administrator's decision, as the City Council did, it's expected that Angela Joe-Willmes and Linda Martin, both Pleasanton residents, who appealed that council vote, will appeal the Planning Commission's decision once more back to the council for another, and likely final hearing.
Besides urging local union representatives to attend Monday's meeting, union organizers also have appealed to union members throughout the East Bay to target Pleasanton as the city where Walmart's grocery store expansion can be stopped. A union representative also urged those at a Democratic Party rally last month in Dublin to join the protests, arguing that Walmart pays below-scale wages to its employees and provides inadequate health benefits.
Security is expected to be tight Monday night with door personnel limiting those admitted to the 227-seat capacity. The Planning Commission will occupy the stage area with speakers required to climb stairs to the stage to make their comments at lecterns.
The Firehouse Arts Center is located at 4444 Railroad Ave. in downtown Pleasanton with parking provided in a rear lot accessible off Spring Street.