Walmart market bid goes to city planners Monday | March 16, 2012 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

News - March 16, 2012

Walmart market bid goes to city planners Monday

Unions call for protests to stop retailer from opening supermarkets in East Bay

by Jeb Bing

An overflow crowd is expected to jam the 227-seat Firehouse Arts Center on Monday night as the Planning Commission holds the first of what will likely be two public meetings on a bid by Walmart to open one of its Neighborhood Market grocery stores in Pleasanton.

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.


Posted by Walter DeSouza, a resident of Fairlands Elementary School
on Mar 18, 2012 at 9:00 am

Residents of the Meadows need a convenient grocery store similar to the NOB HILL STORE that was closed years back.In this hard hit economy , Walmart will not only open up more employment to the unemployed but will also have a great effect on pricing produce and essentials to the benifit of the customers.

Posted by curious, a resident of Las Positas
on Mar 18, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Wonder if the "unions" will ship in bus loads of people to speak against this non union store. I understand the "plan" is already in place to do exactly this. (I apologize if I am posting "old news") If that is the case, I hope the residents who are in favor of the Walmart store for affordable groceries and convenience show up to counter dishonest representation of the people who would otherwise benefit .

Posted by tired of bullies, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 18, 2012 at 10:32 pm

People get on boats, people jump fences, and cross borders to get away from countries that don't allow freedom. They escape large, tyrannical, powerful groups that don't allow free enterprise. America is built on free enterprise. Yet the almighty and powerful unions are telling the citizens of Pleasanton what type of business is going to come here. They're telling us that when there is an empty space that has been sitting idle for years, they would rather have it rot, have the owners of the space lose rent, have the businesses around that space lose customers from not having an anchor tenant, than put a business in there that they don't have power over. That only the businesses they support and that support unions can find a home here. Stop the Unions from bullying. I'd like to stop driving by the abandoned building and I'd like to shop at a retailer without inflated prices because of union attrocities.

Posted by stop union power, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 18, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Hey Jeb Bing - did you conveniently forget to report what time the meeting is on Monday so that the Pleasanton residents don't get a chance to be heard. Did you do that so the out-of-town union representatives that don't even represent Pleasanton residents show up as scheduled by their organization that spends large sums of money and time to keep up with the information that might be left out of our news source?

Posted by Never enough freedom, a resident of Nolan Farms
on Mar 18, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Companies like Walmart never have enough freedom to pay their workers substandard wages that ensure the local economy suffers. Companies like Walmart never have enough freedom to pay low wages that must be supplemented via health care costs and food stamps by American taxpayers. Companies like Walmart never have enough freedom to hire subcontractors that have Asian children working at the end of a machine gun barrel. Give me my Walmart groceries. Save freedom loving Walmart from the evil union meanies.

Posted by tired of bullies, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 18, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Seriously? Walmart pays workers substandard wages? Last i heard our country has a minimum wage and Walmart floor clerks and cashiers get paid quite a bit above that. Target floor personnel gets paid less than Walmart. Really - machine gun barrels pointing at children is how Walmart is going to stock garlic, strawberries, and other California grown produce in their small grocery store.

Posted by cautionary tale, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2012 at 12:33 am

If you don't like WalMart, then be consistent and don't eat at McDonald's or KFC. Don't buy clothes from Nordstroms or Ross. Don't buy a Hersey bar or M&M's. For goodness sake don't buy a Toyota or Kawasaki motorcycle. In facat, don't shop at Safeway or Lucky's.

Why you ask? Because they are all BIG BUSINESS that share common traits with WalMart. They are chains that have monopolized markets and knocked out small business entrepreneurs and ma and pa shops.

I'm just saying to be consistent in your stance. Cause if you do not like WalMart, then go all the way and knock out the BIG BUSINESS parasites where it counts. Buy from the small guy.

Posted by Ann Angst, a resident of Foothill High School
on Mar 19, 2012 at 7:51 am

I love big business, it's what keeps the cost low to me, the consumer. You must be rich if you can afford to shop at small specialty shops all the time.
The point is this is America - equal opportunity for all. Stop hating. Be proud. Be glad you have options and that you can have small shops on main street and yet get the discounts you need at Target. Love small business, love big business. Love the Freedom America affords you. And if you feel so strongly, put your name on your post.

Posted by Never enough freedom, a resident of Nolan Farms
on Mar 19, 2012 at 8:53 am

Last I heard, Walmart pays its workers $37 per hour. Last I heard Walmart won all kinds of awards for the way it treats its child laborers throughout Asia. Last I heard, the scores of Walmart workers who threatened to commit suicide to bring attention to Walmart labor practices were actually just playing a joke on everyone. Ha-Ha!!! Just like "tired of bullies" I always tell the truth. What do Walmart's moldy strawberries have to do with its child labor practices in Asia anyway? Hey, I can be as stupid as anyone here! Love corporations! Love Walmart! Let's not be critical!

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 19, 2012 at 9:17 am

Stop, Info is here Web Link 7:00 p.m., Firehouse Arts Center, 4444 Railroad Ave.

Gollum, gonna be quitting your cushy job at corporate Safeway? You keep making all these arguments (using hyperbologna) for better wages and benefits and the plight of child workers, now at gunpoint and two years old. Yet you don't mind if people in this community, who themselves may be down on their luck or using food stamps, can't shop where they want, like at WalMart. Apparently the human condition only applies to those who are union members or who clearly need to be saved by becoming union members.

Posted by Never enough freedom, a resident of Nolan Farms
on Mar 19, 2012 at 9:32 am

Last i heard, there were people in this community who love to stick their head in the sand. Forced child labor at the end of a gun barrel? Where? Why should I care when I twisted my ankle yesterday? People should be free to buy stale brussel sprouts at Walmart for 20% higher than in other stores. Why? Because I care about people! And especially ME! Fight the union poopers! Uphold Walmart labor practices at home and abroad! Stay out of my community because it's mine and I can define it any way I want!

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 19, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Yeah Never, let's see, stopping a WalMart in Pleasanton is going to end child labor at the end of a gun barrel. Korea and China, right? Weren't you headed overseas to put an end to such atrocities? Lots of potential people to be organized. Don't say you care about those kids or anyone else--you care about your ability to organize 1.4 million new members. All your arguments have fallen flat in the face of repeated questions about your real motives.

Posted by Never enough freedom, a resident of Nolan Farms
on Mar 19, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Motives? What a gasser. I'll tell ya one thing. I'm running for political office, too! As far as forced child labor practices of Walmart and their gross, I mean really, really gross grocery practices, I couldn't care less. I want to buy a stale Hershey's bar for 10 cents less than it costs at Rite Aid. That's freedom. Korea? China? 1.4 workers in US? Couldn't care less. People live, work, die. Rough rocks. Ienjoy sitting in front of the barn in my bare feet, ruminating on liberty and when to bring the cows in.