business news in context, analysis with attitude

  • The Chicago City Council has approved a zoning change that could allow Wal-Mart to build a supercenter on the city’s West Side.

    The vote came despite concerns raised by union leaders and other community activists, who say that while Wal-Mart brings affordable shopping to neighborhoods it does so at the expense of high wages, benefits and jobs at local businesses. In what was considered an unusual political move, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has sided with Wal-Mart against the unions.

    A similar proposal for the city’s South Side will go before the City Council on May 5.

    There are about 100 Wal-Mart stores in Illinois, with about 30 of them in suburban Chicago, according to information provided by the retailer.

  • The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is considering legislation that would, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, “prohibit stores larger than 120,000 square feet from being placed anywhere but downtown; ban all stores of that size that would sell a significant volume of nontaxable items, such as groceries, from anywhere in the city; and require retailers with more than 50,000 square feet of space to obtain a conditional use permit.”

    The proposal is seen as a direct response to the desire by Wal-Mart to build 40 supercenters in the state over the next five years. There has been isolated community resistance to Wal-Mart’s growth plans in the state, with some cities – such as Inglewood, in Southern California – voting to keep Wal-Mart out.

KC's View:
It never gets easier for Wal-Mart. Which is probably a good thing, because it means that people are thinking about the planning issues that shape their communities.