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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. filed suit yesterday to overturn an Alameda County, California, ban on the building of supercenters within its borders.

This is both the second instance and the second strategy used by Wal-Mart in California to beat back instances in which communities have rejected Wal-Mart's overtures.

In Contra Costa County, where a similar ban was enacted by the Board of Supervisors, Wal-Mart funded an effort that resulted in a referendum on the subject scheduled for this March. Other bans have been enacted by the cities of Oakland and Martinez, though Wal-Mart has not yet challenged them.

In the Alameda County suit, Wal-Mart charges that the Board of Supervisors there exceeded its authority by imposing "unusual and unnecessary restrictions on lawful business enterprises." The suit is similar to one going on in Tucson, Arizona.

While Alameda County officials say the ban is not aimed specifically at Wal-Mart, it was enacted as the Arkansas retailer prepared to open 40 supercenters in California over the next five years or so.
KC's View:
We remain conflicted about these situations, believing on the one hand that it isn't fair to single out Wal-Mart as the root of all evil and protect local businesses from having to be competitive, but also feeling that communities ought to have the ability to shape their skylines and commercial climate.