By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
Is there any chance that a Wal-Mart Supercenter could survive the community-impact process? Sure, there’s a chance, somewhere between slim and none. And that represents another strategic advance for progressives: Any superstore that still wants to come to town would have to change its ways. It would have to market its project to the neighborhood, offering not just jobs but other community benefits to balance out the burden it would place on traffic and the downward pressure it might exert on wages. A store would be compelled to engage the community in discussion and, in effect, become a responsible neighbor.
That’s the hope, at least, of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), the group that brought Los Angeles the living wage and took the lead role in organizing the successful Inglewood campaign in April.
“These changes were our suggestions,” LAANE’s Roxana Tynan said. “It’s based on what we learned in Inglewood.”
Which brings us back to the Community Impact Report (CIR), the LAANE-sponsored plan to require developers of all major projects in Los Angeles to submit an economic and environmental analysis to community review before being allowed to move forward. The CIR went earlier this year to the City Council and the Community Redevelopment Agency, but both bodies waited to see what the other would do. In the end, there was too much opposition from business and development interests, so the CIR was put on hold while the superstore plan was hammered out.
And here now is a superstore ordinance that includes in its new smarter form a template for community input on development projects. The CIR has its foot in the door in the big-box law and will get an opportunity to prove itself and, its backers hope, calm any fears that it will dry up development.
In fact, neither the superstore law nor the CIR is essentially new in Los Angeles. The city’s general plan already couches land-use questions in terms of the quality of life. The superstore ordinance is also a land-use law but is aimed more specifically at economic impact.
There is still room to argue over whether the final say on development in the city will belong to neighborhoods or to LAANE and labor. But to Garcetti, Reyes and their council allies, the ordinance is a step in the right direction. The next move, after Labor Day, is inclusionary zoning — a year late, perhaps, but right on time.