[Previously on this subject, Sprawl Brawl and California's Sprawl Driven By Population Growth (Which Is Driven By…)]
This week, I voted "Yes" on Measure R.
I sent in my absentee ballot with a "Yes" on Measure R to preserve Lodi's future as a desirable place to live and to thwart, I hope, the efforts of the Wal-Mart Corporation to alter forever the ambiance of our town.
For those of us who have grown increasingly disgusted by unchecked urban sprawl and infill development, the proposed Super Wal-Mart is the final straw.
This is the point at which we draw a line in the sand.
As things now stand, the battle by concerned Lodians to rein in sprawl will end in one of two ways:
If Measure R passes, citizens will score a victory that sends the message that Lodi belongs to the people and not big business interests who think they can steamroll their way to whatever their heart desires.
On the other hand, should Measure R fail, not only does Lodi get yet another hideous box store but also traffic will increase, pollution will worsen, and the hope that a greenbelt can be maintained between Lodi and Stockton will fade even further.
Measure R is an excellent example of democracy at work. While your votes for Congress, Senate and President are important, your individual vote on Measure R—unlike the statewide and national races decided by huge margins—truly matters.
Not surprisingly, opposition to Measure R is well funded. According to News-Sentinel staff writer Jennifer Pearson Bonnett in her story "$100,000 spent on Measure R," Citizens Against Measure R and its ally the Lodi Balanced Business Coalition have outspent those in favor by a ratio of about 2-1.
Wal-Mart made the largest contribution of either side, $50,000, to support a "No" vote.
With its partner in crime Lowe's and countless residential and commercial developments, Wal-Mart symbolizes the nation's losing battle to control sprawl.
And little wonder that Wal-Mart is associated with greedy growth. Last week, the company announced its plans to open approximately 40-45 new discount stores and 240-250 Super Centers in the United States during its next fiscal year.
In addition, Wal-Mart will expand its Neighborhood Market concept by adding approximately 25 to 30 new units.
Finally, the Sam's Club division
will open an additional 30 to 40 domestic clubs in the
upcoming fiscal year.
Lee Scott, President and CEO said
"The planned square footage growth for the coming year represents approximately 55 million square feet of new retail space, and represents more than an 8% increase over the 655 million square feet we estimate we will have at the end of fiscal year 2005. We also plan to remodel approximately 360 stores and clubs in the next year." [Press release]
These staggering projections fulfill the pledge made in 1998 by Wal-Mart's then Chief Operating Officer, David Glass who revealed his company's strategy, "First we dominate North America, then South America, then Europe and Asia."
But to many, the Wal-Mart philosophy as expressed by Glass was a call to arms.
Ann Cerney, who has been fighting for sensible land-use for many years, told me that Measure R
"represents a message to the developers and other powers that be that we insist on reasonable growth. We will not let you continue your onslaught in the San Joaquin Valley. You must stop."
Cerney is a member of the Small City Preservation Committee.
Measure R, despite the claims of its opponents, does not ban anything.
What is does is give voice to the people to chose how and when Lodi will grow.
And arguments that shopping choices will be restricted are even more vacuous.
Right now, shoppers can go from the front door of the existing Wal-Mart to Food-4-Less to Lowe's to Safeway to Marshall's to Staples to Target to Starbucks—a distance of less than two miles—within five minutes.
Name one necessity that you cannot buy at those stores.
And please don't tell me that with gas at $2.30 per gallon people will be driving to Stockton to shop at a Super Wal-Mart.
Measure R is the point of no return. A "No" vote seals Lodi's fate forever. If Super Wal-Mart comes to town, there will be no turning back.
Please vote "Yes" on Measure R to protect Lodi from continued assault by huge retailers.
JOENOTE TO VDARE.COM READERS:
I have been writing about the perils of immigration-driven overpopulation and sprawl for more years than I care to think about—16 if you really need to know.
To say that the San Joaquin Valley is disappearing before my very eyes is not exaggeration. Every lost acre sadly fulfills my predictions made time and again since 1988.
Finally, citizens have begun to fight back against Wal-Mart and the other big box stores. The Los Angeles City Council recently backed a proposal that would force Wal-Mart its environmental and economic impact on surrounding neighborhoods before building new Super Stores.
The upcoming Measure R vote will tell whether people care more about the quality of life or saving 15 cents on a tub of soap powder.
Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.