Proposed bill could thwart spread of big-box retailers

Opponents of a planned Walmart in Burbank may get some political ammunition if Gov. Jerry Brown signs a bill that would require mega-retailers to submit studies gauging the impact of their stores on everything from traffic to local commerce.

The controversial bill on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk, SB 469, would require any store larger than 90,000 square feet that sells consumer goods and devotes more than 10% of its floor area to food and prescription drugs sales to pay for an economic impact report. The reports can be costly and take more than a year to complete.

Walmart representatives have said they will likely use all of the 120,000-square-foot building adjacent to the Empire Center, but they have not revealed what form it may take, so it's unclear if the economic report requirement would be triggered.

Protesters outside Burbank City Hall Tuesday night called on city officials to push for the study anyway, arguing a Walmart at the former Great Indoors site would compound existing traffic woes around the Empire Center and drive out small businesses.

Since Burbank officials say there is little they can do on a 12-acre site that is already zoned for commercial-retail, SB 469 could offer Walmart detractors some measure of recourse.

The bill would primarily affect Walmart and Target. Customer membership stores, such as Costco and Sam's Club, are specifically exempted from the bill's provisions.

Walmart, Target and retail trade associations are lobbying Brown to veto the legislation.



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