Latest News Articles From The San Ramon Tribune

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wal-Mart Superstore for San Ramon Downtown?

Could a Wal-Mart Upscale Superstore be in store for the Downtown City Center?

Think it can’t happen in San Ramon, think again. Wal-Mart has been trying for years to get a Superstore in the San Ramon Valley. While Pleasanton has a general merchandise Wal-Mart, it is not a Superstore. The terms big-box, superstore, megastore, and supercenter also refer to these large square footage retail establishments.

Just recently the Livermore City Council said absolutely No to Wal-Mart’s plans of building a Super Sized Store in the Livermore area. In fact a total ban on Big Box Stores was set in place.

Wal-mart Greeter Gone Wild
“Livermore City Council passed an ordinance to forbid such superstores from being allowed within city limits. Livermore voted for the ordinance after Wal-Mart showed an interest in bringing an 185,000-square-foot discount retail center with a grocery store to town.

Although rebuffed by Livermore, Wal-Mart or another retailer deciding there may be a viable market in the Tri-Valley could shop their plans to another city.” ref

Why Did Livermore Ban Superstores?

The fact of the matter is where Wal-Mart superstores have been built in various places in the country, they have caused a major problem of urban decay. Urban decay occurs when areas of the city fall into a state of disrepair or a major shift in the buying habits of people put local community anchor supermarkets out of business, and associated retailers are subsequently displaced due to not enough business at the various locations around the area. The Livermore city council understood the significance of maintaining the local anchors to support the other large percentage of businesses and small retailers that make up the Livermore landscape. They recognized the threat of a Wal-Mart Superstore to the community and made the right decision for the people.

Dublin is now being targeted as a Wal-Mart superstore location, but Wal-Mart would like a much better location in the Tri-Valley. Could the new San Ramon City Center be a target for a Wal-Mart Superstore? Do you think that is ridicules? After all, our City Council keeps telling us that they want an upscale department store to anchor the downtown city center. As of yet, no upscale department store has shown an interest in setting up shop in San Ramon.

The demographics of San Ramon simply will not support an upscale department store, and the department stores know it. San Ramon buyers, while having significant income levels, are maxed out with high mortgages, and shop for the best deals possible. Blackhawk, a community with very high income levels had a major department store failure “when upscale Saks Fifth Avenue closed its compact but opulent store – its first in the East Bay – in early 1999 after being open only a year.” ref

So how does a Wal-Mart Superstore fit into the San Ramon landscape?

Forget the idea of a big sprawling box but think of the new upscale Wal-Mart Superstore like their prototype store in Plano, near Dallas Texas. “Wal-Mart is adding new products and revamping stores to catch up with competitors including Target Corp. and Issaquah-based Costco Wholesale Corp. that are winning customers with exclusive brands.” ref

What Would a Wal-Mart Superstore do for San Ramon?

This would likely result in the local Nob Hill store and all the other small retail shops in that shopping area being severally threatened to stay in business. The Target store adjacent to the new Wal-Mart would be severally crippled as well as all the little shops in that center. Competition in business is good, but when the supply and demand is way out of whack, the likelihood for urban decay and businesses going out of business is a very real probability. Not only would there be significant impact on the local San Ramon business community, but current traffic figures would have to be thrown out, because a store like Wal-Mart would bring in significantly higher traffic from all the outlying surrounding cities, and would likely draw the lower income crowd, which would be a major factor for the community at large.

Police services would likely have to be increased. The Iron Horse Trail would significantly be impacted. Safety of crossing Bollinger Canyon, Rd. will be a major issue for the Iron Horse Trail, which is being used more and more by the residents of San Ramon. The crowds at the San Ramon City Park basketball courts would significantly increase. With increased crowds comes an increase in the criminal elements. The skate park would be impacted. Actually, just about every city element is affected by this major influx of people traffic.

So, San Ramon City Council Members, be careful for what you wish for, because the very real possibility is you are going to get more than what you wished for, and you’re not going to like it. Think this can't happen in San Ramon? Read the Wal-Mart Watch

The High Cost of Low Price

Extra Extra Read All About It!

News from the Tri-Valley at the San Ramon Tribune online newspaper. Feel free to submit your news articles for consideration for publishing.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this very insightfull article. Yes, I believe a Wallmart Superstore is eyeing the possibliliy right now for a place in the middle of the San Ramon downtown! Remember, just a couple of years ago our Council promised Saks Fifth Ave and we ended up with Target. Same group, same possibility! We need to follow Livermore's footsteps NOW and BAN all Wallmart mega-superstores in San Ramon! Thanks for the link too! It was great to read that the citizens in Littleton, CO overturned their City Council's decision for a Mega Wallmart in their town.

Anonymous said...

I also heard rumors that PG&E was planning on putting a nuclear power plant in the hills between Doherty Valley and Camp Parks. Can you investigate that for us?

Ben Franklin said...

Ha Ha. Very Funny Annonymous.

Other communities around the country thought that there would be no way a Wal-Mart would move into their areas also. They thought their city council members would do the right thing and not allow it.

We'll, since the City Council and San Ramon Planning department rezoned the entire area to allow a FAR of 1.35, this would be an ideal location for a new "upscale Wal-Mart", especially in light of the large amount of retail square footage being set aside. What's going to happen, with the anchor portion, when the project starts to be built, and still no upscale retail store as envisioned by the Planning Department and the City Council Members comes to the Downtown Center? You can't force a store to come to the downtown center. Are you the City Council Members and the Planning Departments going to just sit back and leave the area blank?.

Wal-Mart doesn't need to sprawl out, they can sprawl up. Wal-Mart is in the process of redesigning their image of a big box store. But, that still doesn't change the fact of the impact for the negative that a Wal-Mart would do for the area.

You, the City Council members have this grandiose idea, that is being given to you by Alex Mehran, Sunset Development company. Do you think Sunset is the altruistic developer with an unselfish motive for the downtown center? If you do, you deceive yourselves.

You the City Council and Planning Department are about to give Alex Mehran, everything he wants with this downtown center. You have sold your souls for a legacy. Pride comes before the fall. The kind of legacy that you are about to place on the City of San Ramon is one that will be looked at in the future and the question will be asked, "What were they thinking!?"

Anonymous said...

I suppose you could move to Livermore if you fear Wal-Mart so much. By the way, do any of you shopat the Costco in Danville? Perhaps the IKEA in Emeryville?

If you do, you couldn't be more hypocritcal. Maybe you only shop in developments that are under 1.35 FAR.

Ben Franklin said...

So anonymous, I guess you wouldn't mind having a Wal-Mart here in San Ramon? Actually, based on your comments it sounds like you really want one. I guess this is really what you would refer to as "upscale?"

FYI, there is a big difference between Wal-Mart Superstores and Costco, or maybe you don't have a membership with a Costco and haven't been in one lately.

So anonymous, are you going to refer to everyone as hypocritical that has shopped at a Costco, or has gone to a Wal-Mart, but opposes having a Wal-Mart superstore be in their backyard? Wal-Mart Superstores have effectively caused urban decay in the local shops in the areas where they have been built, by negatively impacting major grocery store anchors, forcing them to close their doors, and consequently on the small business communities.

But, lets face it, based on your comments, it seems as though there is a hidden agenda by the San Ramon City Council, Planning Commission, and Sunset Development for this downtown city center. Anonymous, are you really for the business community, or would you like to bring in a large Wal-Mart Superstore to San Ramon? It does indeed seem strange that you are making snide remarks.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand what Wal-Mart has to do with the City Center EIR at all. Is there a proposal to bring a Wal-Mart to San Ramon? If there is then we have a problem. If there isn't one proposed in this location then all you are trying to do is to stir the pot, and that is irresponsible.

I'm still waiting to see the housing that this website and it's supporters claimed was proposed at the Royal Vista Golf Course. I guess it was another one of this website and its supporters exaggeration, or perhaps an outright lie?

San Ramon said...

Most Interesting... No upscale retail anchor store has signed on yet. No upscale hotel has signed on yet. Enough retail square footage for 5 Target sized retail outlets.

What insights do you have anonymous for upscale retail for this location? Are you going to force a Sacs Fifth Avenue, Macys, Nordstrom, or any other upscale anchor you want to mention into the downtown center? Certainly not Macys or Nordstrom, since they already have a location at Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton. Or, is one going to magically appear? So anonymous, what upscale retail do you propose for this area?

Bottom-line is: Wal-Mart has been looking to set up shop with a superstore in the Tri-Valley area for a long time.

What is likely to happen, is once the project gets started, and with no upscale solution found for the anchor spots, it will get filled with whatever happens to be available. Wal-Mart would love it, especially in light of their new "upscale" image. Then watch how the EIR numbers are all out of whack. The EIR traffic numbers, air quality numbers, and urban decay numbers are all flawed in that they are based on only one type of upscale retail, and not based on a multitude of thrifty shoppers all converging on a single spot. Unless you know exactly what is going to go into the center, the EIR numbers are wrong, and it is highly likely that the traffic, air quality, and urban decay will be significantly impacted in all areas of San Ramon more than what is being reported in the Draft Subsequent Environmental Impact Report.

As far as the golf courses are concerned, after the city council pushed through a zoning change to allow commercial recreation zoning for two of the golf courses, in spite of citizens reasoning with them to not do it, the City Council then flip flopped and said commercial recreation zoning was not the best zoning for the golf courses. See San Ramon Mayor H. Abram Wilson flip-flop. Wow, just like the people were saying in the first place!

Anonymous said...

Let's be clear here. The "people" and "citizens" you refer to in reference to the golf course issue was a small group of 3 or 4 people. The question still remains, why did the issue of housing have to be raised when there was never any proposal to build housing on the golf courses in San Ramon.

Your tactic seems to be lets "find a solution in need of a problem", because you are clearly a bad fortune teller's or you lie to get your 15 minutes of fame.

San Ramon said...

You have all your facts wrong anonymous. Read about the golf courses.

So, according to you, we should wait till it's too late. I am sure you know how this San Ramon City Government works, since you seem to be a part of it. Each step along the way is planned, with back room deals, and then to be sprung on the citizens when it is too late to add input that matters.

Quit trying to divert the attention from the upscale retail that you say is going to go in. You still have not answered the question. What anchor store upscale retail are you going to put in here?

Anonymous said...

BEWARE ...San Ramon citizens, did you know that two of your San Ramon City Councilman's names (Abram Wilson and Dave Hudson)were on a flyer supporting and promoting a Wallmart Superstore in a nearby City? Check this out!

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