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Chinatown Walmart: LA Politicians Disagree On Whether Or Not To Welcome Walmart (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 03/30/2012 5:23 pm Updated: 03/31/2012 2:08 pm

Since Walmart announced its plan to build a store in Chinatown, the local community and Los Angeles at large has been buzzing about it. Chinatown business owners, residents and various groups have spoken vehemently either for or against the pending Chinatown Walmart.

But what are our elected officials saying? Many are saying nothing. Our own mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, has been elusive on the subject. However, a few LA politicians have come out from behind the smokescreen and dared to voice an opinion on the hot topic.

Councilman Ed Reyes introduced a motion that would bar retail chains including Walmart from moving into Chinatown, but the other council members haven't taken a public stance on the impending store. Although the council unanimously approved Reyes's motion, Walmart obtained the building permits it needed the night before the vote, narrowly dodging the new ordinance. The unanimous vote may just reflect council members' tendency to defer to the local council member on a neighborhood development or zoning issue.

In the past, LA City Council has been unfriendly to Walmart. In 2004, the council passed an ordinance to hamper Walmart's attempt to move into Inglewood. The ordinance allows the city to review job quality and threat to other businesses before approving stores larger than 100,000 square feet. In Chinatown, Walmart is getting around the ordinance by planning a "Neighborhood Mart," which is one fifth the size of its superstores.

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy announced that it, along with the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and Chinatown business owners and residents, filed an appeal with the city's building and safety department. The appeal requests scrutiny into how Walmart, after months of waiting for permits, obtained them the night before the council vote.

The elected officials below, with the exception of the mayor, take a clear stand on the issue. Note: "ANTI" does not necessarily mean the politician is anti-Walmart, but rather, that he or she is against Walmart moving into Chinatown without further review and analysis.

Which politicians stand on the same side as you?

ANTI: Councilman Ed Reyes
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A month after Walmart announced its plan to move into Chinatown, Council Ed Reyes introduced an ordinance to ban retail chains from Chinatown. However, Reyes insisted the ordinance was not specifically targeting Walmart.

On Mar. 23, the council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance. However, the ban will not apply to Walmart because, to the shock of many, the company obtained the permits it needs to start building in Chinatown the night before the council vote.

Reyes said the ordinance is necessary because of traffic and safety concerns in the area and because there is no longer a Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) to assess planning issues. He also spoke of the need to protect Chinatown's cultural character.

He wrote in his motion, "There is a need to protect Chinatown's historically significant resources. Without the appropriate land use regulatory controls in place, there could be a decrease in the diversity of merchandise available to residents, visitors, and tourists."

(Video Credit: YouTube)

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