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L.A. Big-Box Vote Delayed

LOS ANGELES — A refresher course on Robert’s Rules of Order might have helped the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday.<BR><BR>Because of wording in the Los Angeles City Council’s agenda, the scheduled vote on an ordinance that would...

LOS ANGELES — A refresher course on Robert’s Rules of Order might have helped the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday.

Because of wording in the Los Angeles City Council’s agenda, the scheduled vote on an ordinance that would make it harder for retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., to build superstores within city limits was postponed. Instead, a hearing was conducted on the measure and an initial vote is expected today. The final vote is then expected to take place next week.

A procedural technicality led to the delay. The proposal, which doesn’t identify Wal-Mart by name, already has been drafted by the council.

But, on Tuesday, “the question came up on whether we should formally direct the city attorney’s office to draft the ordinance,” said Josh Kamensky, spokesman for Eric Garcetti, one of the bill’s authors.

In the making for more than two years, the measure, proposed by Garcetti and Councilman Ed Reyes, requires retailers to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to prove that stores of more than 100,000 square feet with 10 percent of space devoted to groceries wouldn’t damage communities.

Peter Kanelos, a spokesman for Wal-Mart, which even issued a press release on the vote, did not comment specifically on Tuesday’s glitch, but claimed victory on the matter overall. Kanelos declared that the ordinance as written “falls short of the organized labor proponents’ original intent to ban Wal-Mart from opening supercenters in the city.”

The delay isn’t likely to affect the outcome of the vote; the ordinance is expected to pass. But it may have lessened the drama of the event.

About a dozen television crews were present at City Hall in downtown L.A. Proponents wore “Neighbors deserve a voice” T-shirts. Mayor James Hahn, who also supports the ordinance, held a press conference in the morning.

“We don’t want to ban any stores, but we need answered a series of questions,” said Hahn, referring to the cost-benefit analysis of the stores to the community.

— Kristin Young and Nola Sarkisian-Miller