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L.A.’s Big-Box Vote Passes Unanimously

LOS ANGELES — As expected, the Los Angeles City Council passed the so-called big-box ordinance, intended to make it harder for retailers, such as Wal-Mart Stores and Target, to open superstores. <BR><BR>In its final vote Wednesday, the city...

LOS ANGELES — As expected, the Los Angeles City Council passed the so-called big-box ordinance, intended to make it harder for retailers, such as Wal-Mart Stores and Target, to open superstores.

In its final vote Wednesday, the city council voted 11-0 to approve the measure. Councilman Bernard Parks, who voted against the measure in its first vote Aug. 11, hadn’t yet arrived to the meeting; Councilman Greig Smith, who owns Wal-Mart stock, stepped out of the room for the vote, and Councilwoman Jan Perry and Councilman Ed Reyes were absent.

Mayor James Hahn is expected to sign the measure by the end of the week, and after a 30-day period of publication, the law will go into effect.

Written by Reyes and Councilman Eric Garcetti, the ordinance doesn’t specifically name Wal-Mart, but the world’s largest retailer will likely feel its brunt the most. Under the measure, retailers must prove that stores of more than 100,000 square feet with 10 percent of space devoted to groceries won’t damage communities by paying for a cost-benefit analysis. The ordinance also would affect major food retailers, many of which operate stores of more than 100,000 square feet in size.

Wal-Mart, which has four stores in the Los Angeles area, hasn’t yet announced plans for a Supercenter in L.A.

“This is a victory for the consumer and in no way prohibits us to sell groceries in L.A.,” said Wal-Mart spokesman Peter Kanelos, who wasn’t at the council meeting. “In the traditional style of L.A., it just creates more bureaucracy to do business here.”

Josh Kamensky, a spokesman for Garcetti, said the councilman “was pleased” with the outcome.

“This doesn’t shut the door on anybody, but raises the bar in terms of jobs — something employers need to think about,” he said.

This story first appeared in the August 19, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.