News

Walmart gets Council's final OK for Pleasanton supermarket

4-1 vote ends six months of debate, rancorous public meetings

Walmart won the Pleasanton City Council's approval in a 4-1 vote Tuesday night to open one of its Neighborhood Market grocery stores in the long-vacant Nob Hill supermarket on Santa Rita Road.

The vote ended more than half a year of often rancorous discussions among council members and in public meetings both over the right of Walmart to put its own store at the Nob Hill site, which has been approved for a grocery since 1982, and the concern some on the council and in the public expressed over the Walmart organization, itself.

Councilman Matt Sullivan, an outspoken foe of Walmart and Tuesday night's lone vote against the measure, made a last ditch effort to scuttle the council's action by pressing for consideration of emergency legislation that would require a more extensive review of Walmart's application.

Failing to gain support on that move, he later asked the council to consider an ordinance that would require all future grocery stores to undergo an extensive environmental impact review, whether they were replacing an existing operation or not. That, too, failed to gain any support from others on the council.

Although Walmart can now move forward to obtain operating permits to open its Neighborhood Market later this year, the company, itself, did not receive wholehearted support.

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Sullivan, in a series of statements, warned that the Walmart grocery will "damage the local economy and local workers."

"This is not about stopping Walmart, it's about stopping damage to the economy is brings," Sullivan said. "If Walmart opens, it will be at the expense of another grocery store."

Sullivan, who opposed Safeway's bid to open its new Lifestyle store on Bernal Avenue across from the Fairgrounds, blamed the recent sale of Gene's Fine Foods on competition from that new Safeway. Other supermarkets are likely to close once the new Walmart grocery opens, too, he said.

Despite her vote to support the council's action Tuesday night, which actually was to deny Sullivan's appeal to reverse its earlier approval of a zoning administrator's ruling to approve Walmart's application to move into the Nob Hill market, Mayor Jennifer Hosterman bashed Walmart as a national retailer that under-pays its employees and provides inadequate benefits.

"Walmart is sucking the lifeblood out of communities across the state," she said. "I never shop there."

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"But since we already have a (regular) Walmart store in Pleasanton," she added, "I don't have the luxury of fighting that fight. I'll tell you though, I have a law degree and I am a fighter. If we had entered into this discussion years ago when Walmart wanted to come here, we might have been able to stop them."

However, others on the council were more supportive of Walmart, which annually pays the city's second highest individual retail store taxes after Macy's home furnishing store.

"For three years, the (Nob Hill store) neighborhood has not had a grocery store," said Councilwoman Cindy McGovern, in voting in favor of Walmart. "If another grocery had wanted to come here, they could have."

Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio, who like Hosterman, has said she refuses to shop at Walmart because of what she has described as its poor business practices, also supported the Neighborhood Market bid.

"Sometimes it's difficult when we don't like a particular company to make a decision that favors it," Cook-Kallio said. "But our job on the council is to uphold the Constitution. I believe our zoning administrator did exactly what we should do as a council."

Councilman Jerry Thorne also voted in favor of the Walmart application.

"For me, it was a matter of determining if the new store fits the zoning code on the site," he said. "I have found that there's no argument with those documents, no error by the zoning administrator or the Planning Commission, and I move that we deny the (Sullivan) appeal and uphold the staff recommendations."

After the vote, Deborah Herron, a spokeswoman for Walmart, said:

"The decision is good news for Pleasanton customers who want more affordable options for fresh groceries as well as local businesses and Meadows neighborhood residents eager to see the long vacant supermarket at Meadow Plaza revitalized."

"A Walmart Neighborhood Market also represents a business growth opportunity for local suppliers and job creation in the community," she added.

Walmart is expected to file for operating permits for its Neighborhood Market shortly in preparation for making interior improvements to the old Nob Hill supermarket.

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Walmart gets Council's final OK for Pleasanton supermarket

4-1 vote ends six months of debate, rancorous public meetings

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, May 16, 2012, 7:47 am
Updated: Fri, May 18, 2012, 7:28 am

Walmart won the Pleasanton City Council's approval in a 4-1 vote Tuesday night to open one of its Neighborhood Market grocery stores in the long-vacant Nob Hill supermarket on Santa Rita Road.

The vote ended more than half a year of often rancorous discussions among council members and in public meetings both over the right of Walmart to put its own store at the Nob Hill site, which has been approved for a grocery since 1982, and the concern some on the council and in the public expressed over the Walmart organization, itself.

Councilman Matt Sullivan, an outspoken foe of Walmart and Tuesday night's lone vote against the measure, made a last ditch effort to scuttle the council's action by pressing for consideration of emergency legislation that would require a more extensive review of Walmart's application.

Failing to gain support on that move, he later asked the council to consider an ordinance that would require all future grocery stores to undergo an extensive environmental impact review, whether they were replacing an existing operation or not. That, too, failed to gain any support from others on the council.

Although Walmart can now move forward to obtain operating permits to open its Neighborhood Market later this year, the company, itself, did not receive wholehearted support.

Sullivan, in a series of statements, warned that the Walmart grocery will "damage the local economy and local workers."

"This is not about stopping Walmart, it's about stopping damage to the economy is brings," Sullivan said. "If Walmart opens, it will be at the expense of another grocery store."

Sullivan, who opposed Safeway's bid to open its new Lifestyle store on Bernal Avenue across from the Fairgrounds, blamed the recent sale of Gene's Fine Foods on competition from that new Safeway. Other supermarkets are likely to close once the new Walmart grocery opens, too, he said.

Despite her vote to support the council's action Tuesday night, which actually was to deny Sullivan's appeal to reverse its earlier approval of a zoning administrator's ruling to approve Walmart's application to move into the Nob Hill market, Mayor Jennifer Hosterman bashed Walmart as a national retailer that under-pays its employees and provides inadequate benefits.

"Walmart is sucking the lifeblood out of communities across the state," she said. "I never shop there."

"But since we already have a (regular) Walmart store in Pleasanton," she added, "I don't have the luxury of fighting that fight. I'll tell you though, I have a law degree and I am a fighter. If we had entered into this discussion years ago when Walmart wanted to come here, we might have been able to stop them."

However, others on the council were more supportive of Walmart, which annually pays the city's second highest individual retail store taxes after Macy's home furnishing store.

"For three years, the (Nob Hill store) neighborhood has not had a grocery store," said Councilwoman Cindy McGovern, in voting in favor of Walmart. "If another grocery had wanted to come here, they could have."

Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio, who like Hosterman, has said she refuses to shop at Walmart because of what she has described as its poor business practices, also supported the Neighborhood Market bid.

"Sometimes it's difficult when we don't like a particular company to make a decision that favors it," Cook-Kallio said. "But our job on the council is to uphold the Constitution. I believe our zoning administrator did exactly what we should do as a council."

Councilman Jerry Thorne also voted in favor of the Walmart application.

"For me, it was a matter of determining if the new store fits the zoning code on the site," he said. "I have found that there's no argument with those documents, no error by the zoning administrator or the Planning Commission, and I move that we deny the (Sullivan) appeal and uphold the staff recommendations."

After the vote, Deborah Herron, a spokeswoman for Walmart, said:

"The decision is good news for Pleasanton customers who want more affordable options for fresh groceries as well as local businesses and Meadows neighborhood residents eager to see the long vacant supermarket at Meadow Plaza revitalized."

"A Walmart Neighborhood Market also represents a business growth opportunity for local suppliers and job creation in the community," she added.

Walmart is expected to file for operating permits for its Neighborhood Market shortly in preparation for making interior improvements to the old Nob Hill supermarket.

Comments

Dave
Birdland
on May 16, 2012 at 8:10 am
Dave, Birdland
on May 16, 2012 at 8:10 am

Don't know the accuracy of this..............perhaps some other readers can verify. Note that our esteemed mayor says that she would never shop at Wal-Mart; however I have heard that she owns stock in Wal-Mart. Is this true?


steve
Parkside
on May 16, 2012 at 8:30 am
steve, Parkside
on May 16, 2012 at 8:30 am

LOL. Well, glad to see the inevitable finally occurred. The posturing by the mayor is really comical.
It's like some wimp threatening to take on a much bigger person, all the while his buddies are holding the wimp back, as though he would really take on the bigger, stronger opponent.
Glad that sullivain lost his misguided effort, tilting at windmills.
Can't wait to hear the whining from the losers who opposed the new grocery store and their tales of the world coming to an end. The end they now see, is the irrelevance of their union utopia.


chemist
Downtown
on May 16, 2012 at 8:32 am
chemist, Downtown
on May 16, 2012 at 8:32 am

I don't know about her law degree or stock ownership, but none of the things she talked about last night belong in the discussion. Her opinion of Walmart is irrelevant. So is Matt Sullivan's opinion of Walmart, ETC. However, the most disappointing discussion concerned additional "ordinances" that would require more studies, more dollars, and more red tape for companies who want to bring jobs to Pleasanton. We already have TOO MANY RULES, REGULATIONS and OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE COUNCIL TO MAKE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS PROCESS ARBITRARY - as we have just witnessed in this Walmart application CIRCUS. When the government can order traffic studies, environmental studies, and a whole list of arbitrary hurdles, that leads to bribery and corruption. Let the free market decide if Walmart will succeed in Pleasanton. If everyone agrees with Sullivan and Hosterman, Walmart will not succeed. If everyone agrees with me, any "traffic study" that might have been done will prove to under estimate the massive traffic jam that will be in the Walmart parking area. Before hearing how the mayor felt I was fairly indifferent, but now I plan to frequent our new Walmart Neighborhood Market daily.


Henry
Pleasanton Valley
on May 16, 2012 at 8:32 am
Henry, Pleasanton Valley
on May 16, 2012 at 8:32 am

Hey Dave....I believe in buying American so I drive a GM car.
BUT I own Toyota stock!! So what? Just because I don't spend money on their products doesn't mean I can't make money on it.
And what the mayor does with her PERSONAL life is her business! What she does that affects the city is OUR business!


me
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 8:35 am
me, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 8:35 am

I wasn't at this meeting but the article makes it sound like Matt Sullivan was desperate and ranting?? Maybe he needs medication?

Get over it people... if you don't like Walmart, don't shop there. If no one shops there then it will go out of business like others. But we can't block businesses because we don't like them. Otherwise...where would it stop? What if someone on our council didn't like a business because of it's ethnic or racial slant, would they block that?


me too!
Birdland
on May 16, 2012 at 8:52 am
me too!, Birdland
on May 16, 2012 at 8:52 am

Me....I agree. This is America and we are free to shop where we want. If people want to shop at Genes or Raleys so their sales don't suffer because of Walmart that is their choice!
I know for me, it will be the only store I shop for groceries at. I'm all about saving money. I have to be, I don't have much to spend.


Tom
Castlewood
on May 16, 2012 at 8:52 am
Tom, Castlewood
on May 16, 2012 at 8:52 am

Since we live in a free enterprise society, government should not be involved with promoting a liberal or conservative agenda. Pleasanton city council did the right thing in approving Walmart's plans based on the criteria it is required to assess.

If people don't like Walmart's 'business practices' what do the tell the millions of citizens who shop there and find that Walmart stores meet their needs? Political correctness and those who promote it is the 'religion' of our age.


Chemist
Downtown
on May 16, 2012 at 8:57 am
Chemist, Downtown
on May 16, 2012 at 8:57 am

It is a certainty that ALL of the public speakers who were denied an opportunity to speak would have had far more intelligent input on the matter than our mayor. She is an embarrassment to our city. Her self-serving, union-serving positions are nothing short of ridiculous, and her comments at the meeting last night were unbecoming, unprofessional, irrelevant and a total waste of everyone's time.


Live in P-Town
Country Fair
on May 16, 2012 at 9:07 am
Live in P-Town, Country Fair
on May 16, 2012 at 9:07 am

I shop at many grocery stores in Pleasanton and also at the new Target in Dublin. I've shopped at the Pleasanton WalMart for years, too. I see the SAME clerks at WalMart that have been there for at least 5 years. The new Target has had so many changes in employees since it opened that it must not be much different in wages/benefits than WalMart. But since WalMart is the largest grocery store in the country, it is the target to use a pun. Again, Safeway can compete on service, quality, and variety of merchandise which WalMart and Target can't. There's room for all of them in this area.

I'd prefer the City Council put a limit on the number of the massage businesses popping up all over town.


Resident
Foothill High School
on May 16, 2012 at 9:47 am
Resident, Foothill High School
on May 16, 2012 at 9:47 am

If you are looking for other viable options to save $$ vs the large chain stores in Ptown and Dublin check out the Ranch 99 stores in Ptown/Dublin and Trader Joe's. They are thriving despite all of the discussion about killing businesses.
Maybe the state unions (and the associated "unfunded liabilities" that the state owes for them) will take note that they are not going to run rough shod over us in this town. (The state - that would be us the citzens of the state)
Unafraid to take a stand - Go Ptown!!!!!


Settled !
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 9:49 am
Settled !, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 9:49 am

Happy the neighborhood won't have an empty center much longer. Everybody wins by filling the vacancy!
Let's just say we do have many, many choices for groceries now...maybe some of us won't have to drive to Dublin Sprouts any more. I am sorry Trader Joes didn't opt to relocate for parking and asile space....BUT they did not ! ! Everything considered, WM neighborhood market fills the need/space.


Ridiculous
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 10:03 am
Ridiculous, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 10:03 am

I first received the first union mailer in April 2011. 13 months to process a grocery store that is a permitted use in a pre-existing vacant grocery store?

[Give me a break - Hosterman and Cook-Kallio are above us all and far too well-off/wealthy to shop at Walmart. Perhaps they frequent Neiman Marcus like Mary Hayashi. And have their meals prepared by professional chefs.]



Common Sense
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 10:47 am
Common Sense, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 10:47 am

Funny that Sullivan says " Walmart will damage the local economy & the local workers". Seems like he is as guilty as Walmart with all of his negative anti business moves while on the counsel. What a hippocrite. Does this guy ever support anything?


Joe
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 10:48 am
Joe, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 10:48 am

Why do we have this level of disfunction in our city? Because they all are controled by their pet special interests.

Remove the continuances where one dessenting vote costs us TP's thousnads of dollars just so then can get campaign contributions!


Jib
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 12:25 pm
Jib, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 12:25 pm

OK, now if Matt Sullivan would please go crawl in a hole somewhere and not come out -- that would be wonderful. His performance on this Walmart application was disgusting.


Eryn
Downtown
on May 16, 2012 at 1:47 pm
Eryn, Downtown
on May 16, 2012 at 1:47 pm

If the mayor owned stock in WM, she would have had to recuse herself from voting. Therefore, I would say she does not own stock in WM.


Lee
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 2:59 pm
Lee, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 2:59 pm

At last, some common sense out of the city council! This empty space needs filling, and who cares what kind of business it is? People who want to spend their money there will do so and others will not.

I'm happy to see a market there as it will be the only one near this end of town!


Jake
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 3:04 pm
Jake, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Actually, Lee, there is also Fresh and Easy, 99 Ranch and Trader Joe's.


informed resident
Mohr Park
on May 16, 2012 at 3:35 pm
informed resident, Mohr Park
on May 16, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Perhaps it is time to reconsider the practice of allowing a Councilmember a "one time continuation" of any item. This type of rule originally began when a Councilmember or a key participate could not make it to the Council meeting. IE In the old days,politicians would try to schedule votes when their opponents would be absent. Maybe this "rule" should now be changed so that the "one time continuation" has to have a real public purpose...


local
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm
local, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm

[Removed because it is off topic.]


annonymous
Las Positas
on May 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm
annonymous, Las Positas
on May 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Praise the Lord! We need a grocery store in that area so bad, I don't even care that it's Walmart.


I always VOTE!
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm
I always VOTE!, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm

It's bad enough just reading what M. Sullivan and our illustrious mayor had to say the other evening -- now you know why I have not been attending Council meetings of late. Gives me heartburn and nausea! I think that Matt and Jennifer have sealed their political future as far as Pleasanton VOTERS are concerned; it's obvious they both have other aspirations, but I'll bet they will NOT get the support they want from PLEASANTON VOTERS! This episode is NOT, in any way, a positive reflection on our local political apparatus. Isn't promoting the BENEFITS of Pleasanton part of their job descrip-tion? If not, it should be!!!! Is this what they have done????
Not in my view.....................


Outraged voter of Pleasanton
Downtown
on May 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm
Outraged voter of Pleasanton, Downtown
on May 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm

While I certainly understand the need to fill an empty storefront, Walmart "neighborhood" market is not the answer. When I wrote to the city Coucil regarding my concerns of Walmart opening a market Cheryl Cook Kalio responded with concerns of the secrecy concerning the brand. She stated that the application didn't include the name of the company and that the name Walmart was included on a page within the application which was later removed by the applicant and another page without the name was inserted. Now she and the rest have concerns of litigation. This tells me two things: Walmart is not neighborly material & Ms. Cook Kalio is to up for the job as future mayor. I agree with Matt Sullivan. If Cindy is so pro free enterprise how about putting the market up in Castlewood next to her home and another next to the mayors ome


Gail
Birdland
on May 16, 2012 at 7:13 pm
Gail, Birdland
on May 16, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Time to stop beating a dead horse people. It's a done deal.
Walmart will be opening a Neighborhood Market here and there is nothing more to be done about.
How long are you all gonna dwell on this?


Ridiculous
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 9:17 pm
Ridiculous, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 9:17 pm

If Cook Kalio is so concerned about 'secrecy' and the local economy, perhaps she should instead disclose why a secret so-called 'University' suddenly opened up 200 feet away from the old Nob Hill Santa Rita/Stoneridge location that was mysteriously issued with a simple over the counter permit and not a single public meeting.

Maybe she should explain why under her watch, tens of millions of our Federal tax dollars had to be used used to undertake a two year Federal sting operation to undo Pleasanton's local bureaucratic bungling.




Settled !
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 10:03 pm
Settled !, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Yes, what is the latest on the phony 'university' scam to bilk the naive.


Free Choice for Consumer
Amador Estates
on May 16, 2012 at 10:24 pm
Free Choice for Consumer, Amador Estates
on May 16, 2012 at 10:24 pm

From what I hear, Matt who is termed out at the end of this year, is seeking to curry favor with his Democratic Party so he can get some kind of government job out of them. It was clear many months ago that he was not going to prevail in this, but he continued anyway--in full knowledge that it was a fruitless delaying effort. So why did he do this? So union-favoring friends in the Democratic Party would return the favor.

I for one enjoy shopping at Walmart for two reasons: The prices are usually the lowest available in retail stores, and they are one of the few remaining major retailers that have avoided promotion of deviant lifestyle choices.

Walmart also led the way with low cost generic prescription medications--for all shoppers, not just their employees.

Like another posting here, I have also noticed the same employees in our local store over a number of years. For some reason they are not rushing to dump their jobs for something else.


Red-blooded American
Downtown
on May 17, 2012 at 12:15 am
Red-blooded American, Downtown
on May 17, 2012 at 12:15 am

Walmart was one of the first to discontinue carrying Dixie Chicks and other communist music. It tries to preserve homogenius lifestyle in these great United States.


Are You Kidding?
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 17, 2012 at 7:09 am
Are You Kidding?, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 17, 2012 at 7:09 am

First, I shop at WalMart and the other grocery stores in town. But for a poster to state, "they are one of the few remaining major retailers that have avoided promotion of deviant lifestyle choices" is silly. I see plenty of wine, beer, corn-syrup sodas, candy, and other junk food. I also assume they sell cigarettes and ammunition, but I've never seen those myself. One person's "deviant" items are not another's.


Red-blooded American
Downtown
on May 17, 2012 at 7:20 am
Red-blooded American, Downtown
on May 17, 2012 at 7:20 am

I have friends who work at Walmart, and they continue to work there despite opportunities to go elsewhere because they claim Walmart is the best company in the world and working there is like belonging to the Walmart family. One friend was offered a job teaching astrophysics at Air Force Academy, but he continued on at Walmart as a shelf stocker. Antoher friend was offered a secretarial position in the PUSD with a salary of $210 thousand a year and full benefits after only two years on the job, but she had become too attached to working the graveyard shift at Walmart and the employee discounts she got on Lay's potato chips.


steve
Parkside
on May 17, 2012 at 8:14 am
steve, Parkside
on May 17, 2012 at 8:14 am

This just in: WalMart's quarterly income was up 10%, sending their stock up 4% this morning. This has got to just fry the brains of liberals and unionistas.


Robert
Highland Oaks
on May 17, 2012 at 8:49 am
Robert, Highland Oaks
on May 17, 2012 at 8:49 am

Most of the city council members are so self serving. We do not care where you shop for your groceries. We want a local government that welcomes jobs in Pleasanton. Provides goods and/or services at a lower cost. Capitalisim is not a bad word. I applaud WalMart for risking their capital in Marin County south. NIMBY Good Luck Walmart!


Pete
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 17, 2012 at 8:57 am
Pete , Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 17, 2012 at 8:57 am

steve, you still think this is all about unions? The gain was predicted by Tuesday's vote. What's the fuss? Anybody against Walmart, is against Pleasanton. You can read it in the Weekly!


Steve
Parkside
on May 17, 2012 at 6:53 pm
Steve, Parkside
on May 17, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Pete, no one is fussing (except Sullivan), I'm just glad I purchased Walmart stock years ago.


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