GOVERNOR AXES BILL LIMITING BIG-BOX EXPANSION IN CALIF.

Byline: Teena Hammond / With contributions from Kristi Ellis

LOS ANGELES — California Gov. Gray Davis has vetoed a bill that would have made it difficult for big-box retailers to expand in the state.
Kmart, Wal-Mart and Costco would have been most affected by the bill, known as AB 84. It was sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Floyd (D., Wilmington).
“Not only is this bill anticompetition and anticonsumer, it represents the worst kind of end-of-session maneuvering by special interests,” said Davis in a statement after he vetoed the bill late Wednesday.
The bill would have prohibited public agencies in California from approving store projects larger than 100,000 square feet if more than 15,000 square feet of the store were devoted to selling food and drugs, which are not taxable.
Davis criticized the state assembly for passing AB 84, saying it was rushed through the legislature in the hours before adjournment, without public notice or input.
“Matters largely involving local land-use and zoning decisions should not be preempted by the legislature and governor without thoughtful deliberation. As a general principle, consumers should not be limited in their choices simply through questionable governmental fiat, and that is exactly what this bill seeks to do,” Davis said.
The bill was backed by the California Labor Federation and the United Food and Commercial Workers, and major supermarkets that compete against mass merchants and discounters.
“This bill was instigated by the three largest California grocery store chains as a means of keeping us out of supercenters,” said Dale Apley, divisional vice president of public policy for Kmart.
Kmart operates two distribution centers and 174 Big K and Super K stores in California.
Apley said AP 84 would have prevented Kmart from building its Big K or Super K stores in potential growth areas, such as the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles.