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Proposed Ordinance Could Block the Chinatown Walmart

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Updated 1:44 pm: On March 23, the City Council is scheduled to hear a motion that would prevent "formula retail" (meaning: chain stores) from being built in Chinatown. Oh, and isn't this interesting--Walmart has very controversial plans to put one of its Neighborhood Markets in a space at Cesar Chavez Ave. and Grand Ave. The motion comes from City Councilmember Ed Reyes, who represents the area, and proposes an Interim Control Ordinance that would "prohibit the issuance of demolition, building, and any other applicable permits for the establishment and operation of new Formula Retail Uses in Chinatown." Formula retail uses are described as "those businesses that maintain two or more of the following features: a standardized array of merchandise, a standardized facade, a standardized decor and color scheme, a uniform apparel, standardized signage, a trademark or a servicemark." (Psst, hey Walmart, we think they're talking to you.) The motion adds that "The establishment and proliferation of new formula retail uses in Chinatown, if not monitored or regulated, will hamper its diverse retail bases with distinct neighborhood retailing uses comprised of a mix of local businesses."

On Monday, the Council's Planning and Land Use Management committee waived consideration of the motion, according to the City Clerk's website, and it'll go to the full Council on Friday. According to the LA Times, "Reyes said his intent was not to block Wal-Mart or any retailer, and plans to amend the proposal to prevent 'unintended consequences.' Amendments could narrow the scope of the proposal to only stores above a certain square footage, Reyes said."

Update: Steve Restivo, senior director of Community Affairs at Walmart, issued this statement on the ordinance: "Given the widespread support from the downtown and Chinatown communities for new grocery stores, it's clear that this action has nothing to do with the needs of the district and everything to do with serving outside special interests. We will continue to engage with the surrounding community as we build even more support for our store and the jobs, economic development opportunities and more affordable grocery options it will deliver." Business groups like the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Asian Business Association, and the Chinatown Business Improvement District have supported the Walmart, while some community and labor groups have been fighting the store.
· Updated: Walmart Opening Neighborhood Market in Chinatown [Curbed LA]

Grand Plaza

701 W. Cesar Chavez Ave., Los Angeles, CA