Friday, June 16, 2006

www.NoWalmartInMarina.org

Our website has moved and improved!

Go to www.NoWalmartInMarina.org for the latest news on Wal-Mart’s attempt to open a store in Marina, CA and how you can help prevent it.

Monday, May 22, 2006

What You Can Do Today to Stop Wal-Mart in Marina

When I'm out in the community, be it shopping in Marina, attending an event in Monterey, eating at a restaurant in Carmel, or walking on a local beach, people tell me how disappointed they are that Wal-Mart is trying to come to Marina, to the Monterey Bay. They ask what they can do to stop it. How do you stop the world’s largest retailer with the most predatory business practices in modern history?

Simple, tell Wal-Mart you won’t spend your money with them. You won’t shop at their store.

Wal-Mart is all about money and this message will hit home with them. Call their California 800 number and simply tell them that they are not welcome in Marina or on the Monterey Bay and you will not spend a penny with them. Call 1-800-793-6522 today. It will just take a few seconds and have a huge cumulative impact.

For more information on why Wal-Mart is so bad for any community, go to WalmartWatch.com, Sprawl-Busters.com, WakeUpWalmart.com, and BattleMart.com.

Important Article on Wal-Mart & A Small Town’s Fight

Following is a link to an article from today's San Francisco Chronicle about the small (pop. 24,000), waterfront, East Bay town of Hercules' fight to keep Wal-Mart out. There are many similarities between Hercules and Marina, and one major difference—the hercules City Council is fighting for their city.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/05/22/MNGO6IVUTP1.DTL

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

WakeUpWalMart.com Releases Crime Report

"…Wal-Mart parking lots are a virtual magnet for crime." - Judge L. Starcher

Today, WakeUpWalMart.com released the first national study detailing the problem of crime at Wal-Mart store locations called “Wal-Mart & Crime: Is Wal-Mart Safe?” We requested the official police reports (ie. calls for service) from 551 Wal-Mart store locations throughout the U.S.

The results are shocking and outrageous. In 2004, at just those 551 Wal-Mart stores, police were called to respond to over 148,331 police incidents, including over 2,900 reports of serious or violent crimes:

1,145 Assaults
153 Sex Crimes
23 Kidnappings (or Attempts)
9 Rapes (or Attempts)
4 Homicides (or Attempts)

Based on this sample, nationally in 2004, we estimate police responded to nearly 1 million reported police incidents at Wal-Mart stores costing American taxpayers $77 million.

For a complete copy of the report please go to:

www.WalMartCrimeReport.com

There is no explanation why Wal-Mart, despite knowing it has a high level of crime at some of its stores, has not taken the necessary steps to improve public safety and address the serious threat to customers, employees and the community.

As early as 1994, Wal-Mart actually conducted its own crime study and found nearly 80% of the crimes were being committed in its parking lots. A 1996 confidential, internal Wal-Mart memo warned, “We are now on notice of the violence that is happening on our parking lots in the Houston area.”

And yet, even with horrific examples of violent crimes and even rapes at Wal-Mart stores, Wal-Mart has not publicly adopted a company-wide policy of installing staffed security cameras and instituting roving security patrols at all of its stores. In fact, according to a Wal-Mart official in 2000, Wal-Mart failed to put in roving security patrols at 83% of its stores even though internal Wal-Mart studies showed these patrols could reduce crime to near zero levels.

Today, WakeUpWalMart.com is sending a letter to Wal-Mart’s CEO Lee Scott calling on Wal-Mart to immediately take the necessary steps to protect its customers, employees and the community by adopting a nationwide policy to make its stores safer, including: putting in security cameras at all its stores, actually having an employee watch those security cameras and implementing roving security patrols in all of its parking lots.

As part of this campaign, WakeUpWalMart.com calls on Wal-Mart to announce this new public safety initiative before Mother’s Day, May 14th 2006.

Please sign our letter calling on Wal-Mart to adopt a nation-wide policy to make its stores safer by Mother’s Day:

http://www.walmartcrimereport.com/letter.html

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

KSBW's Editorial & Our Rebuttal

KSBW Editorial: Wal-Mart Marina?
April 21, 2006

The brouhaha continues in Marina over a proposed Wal-Mart. Some zealots would have you believe that Wal-Mart is as great a threat to the free world as al-Qaeda. Thankfully, the Marina City Council seems to be diligent in asking the right questions, but at least they're moving the project forward. Our Editorial Board just hopes they don't concoct so many restrictions and requirements that Wal-Mart nixes the deal.

The fact is Marina has a big, empty retail space doing nothing to serve the people or generate taxes. Kmart moved out and Wal-Mart wants in. It's not like Marina has Costco and Target fighting over the opportunity to snatch up this empty building. Wal-Mart draws criticism, but it's success is not based on bullying tactics or illegal accounting, it's based on customers actually deciding to shop there.

There are some people who hate going to Costco: They say it's just too big. Some people love Target and its trendy marketing; some deride the store calling it "Tar-zhay." Some people think the fancy, chamancy Tiffany's in Carmel is an overpriced jewelry store chain. Heck, some people don't like KSBW. But that's the best part of this great country: choice. Our point is, if you don't like Wal-Mart, don't shop there ... don't apply to work there. The fact is many across our country are thankful that a Wal-Mart with its wide selection and low prices is available. Tens of thousands are proud to work for Wal-Mart and have made life-long careers from their experience. High-handed activists should not decide for the rest of us whether a Wal-Mart comes to Marina or not, the Marina City Council should. And we hope the Council is fair in treating Wal-Mart just as they would any other new big store hoping to fill the old Kmart space.

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April 25, 2006

Dear Mr. Heston and Ms. Wright:

We were disappointed to see KSBW’s April 21st editorial. We are long-time KSBW viewers and enjoy KSBW’s news coverage. However, the April 21 editorial seems to serve Wal-Mart more than the public.

First, we would like to let you know that we are leading a movement to stop Wal-Mart in Marina. We are not “zealots” or “high-handed activists.” We are Marina residents, supported by hundreds of other Marina residents. We own a home and a small business in Marina. We vote in every election. We give back to the community. We have never led an “activist” cause. However, when it was announced in the Monterey County Herald on March 4 that Wal-Mart was coming to Marina, we knew we had to do something and shortly thereafter formed a grassroots citizens group called Citizens Against Wal-Mart in Marina.

Second, yes, Wal-Mart does draw criticism — and rightfully so on many counts. We believe that it is wrong for a company to do things like discriminate against women for pay and promotions, or make people work off-the-clock, or violate child labor laws, or violate the Clean Water Act. Other people do too, like the U.S. government, for example. Wal-Mart doesn’t need to blame to activists or unions for tarnishing its image; Wal-Mart is doing a fine job tarnishing its own image.

Third, we agree with you that one of the best parts of this great country is choice, and county residents can choose to shop at the existing Wal-Mart in Salinas. The problem is that Marina was NOT given a choice. An out-of-town developer bought the Kmart building and parking lot last October. They signed a lease with Wal-Mart in February, without bothering to tell anyone in Marina. Marina’s City Council and citizens were informed a Wal-Mart was coming to Marina by the Monterey County Herald article on March 4. We have repeatedly been told, “It’s a done deal.” Where was our choice?

Further, the vision for the Marina Landing Shopping Center (the site of the former Kmart) was discussed in great detail at the Oct. 13, 2005 Marina Planning Commission meeting. The vision our City Council and Planning Commission had for the site was MULTIPLE retailers. In fact, the Planning Commission specifically told the developer that Marina did NOT want a Wal-Mart or any single general discount retailer coming in and occupying the whole building.

Should an out-of-town developer and Wal-Mart have more say in the direction of Marina than its own city officials and citizens? Certainly not. Marina citizens and city leaders (not a developer or Wal-Mart or KSBW or even citizens from other local cities) should decide if a Wal-Mart comes to Marina.

Fourth, if the developer had followed through with the plans that were discussed for the site at the Oct. 13 meeting and secured multiple retailers, both the developer and the city would make MORE money than they would with a Wal-Mart. And Marina citizens would have MORE choice which, again, is one of the best parts of this country.

Fifth, comparing the threat that Wal-Mart poses to the threat al-Qaeda poses is ridiculous and irresponsible. We are dismayed that anyone would make such a comparison.

Finally, in the interest of fairness and full disclosure, we think KSBW should disclose in its editorials if the company it is praising is a paid advertiser on the station — particularly when touting the company’s “wide selection and low prices.”

Sincerely,

Steve and Tina Zmak
Citizens Against Wal-Mart in Marina
831-883-4459
cawim@earthlink.net

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Planning Commission Grants a Public Hearing! - April 27

Say No to Wal-Mart

Come to the Marina Planning Commission Public Hearing Thursday, April 27, 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 211 Hillcrest Avenue

Our Planning Commission voted to have a public hearing to decide whether or not they will consider revoking the permit that was granted at the Oct. 13, 2005 Planning Commission meeting.

Planning Commissioners stated repeatedly at the Oct. 13 meeting that they specifically did not want a Wal-Mart. So why did we get a Wal-Mart, rather than the multiple retailers discussed for the site? Did Tallen & Keshen negligently provide false material information at the Oct. 13 meeting?

”…Once we close on the property we will immediately come in and start spending money. We will spend several hundred thousand dollars. We will improve the parking lot. We will replace the damaged light standards. … We will clean up the physical plant in all manners. …”
—Terrence Tallen [approx. 53 minutes into the meeting]

This was not done. Why

”…Then when everything’s looking good, we’ll go out to the retail real estate community. We hope to have our work completed by the first of April. At that point in time, there’s ...a very large International Council of Shopping Centers conference here in Monterey every year, and we plan to have a special event at that conference at that time. We’ll invite the retailers out and have a little event on-site and say here’s your next big opportunity. What we’re doing that’s different than everybody else that’s come to buy this property, everyone else said I’m not going to close unless I know I have a use, unless I know I have a tenant, we’re stepping up now without a tenant to buy the property, spend the money, and then get it done. And that’s how you reposition retail real estate….”
—Terrence Tallen [approx. 55 minutes into the meeting]

This was not done. Why?

“…I think we can put together a tenant mix and I would love to meet with you and the commission to talk about tenant mix but what we need to do now is be able to get the approvals in place…” —Terrence Tallen [approx. 1 hour into the meeting]

This was not done. Why?

Based on this testimony and more, our Planning Commission on April 27 will decide whether or not to hold a hearing to consider modifying or revoking the permit, and SAY NO TO WAL-MART in MARINA!

The Public Hearing on April 27 is YOUR opportunity to voice your concerns and objections to a Wal-Mart in Marina. Tell the Commissioners why you think the permit should be modified or revoked, and ask them to hold the next hearing to consider modifying or revoking the permit. Reaffirm our city’s vision for multiple retailers for the Marina Landing Shopping Center.

Letter to the Editor

Why not a Wal-Mart on Beach Road, as opposed to any other retailer? Wal-Mart customers feel personally maligned for their choice of store. It doesn’t help that to date no real debate has been allowed, only a post announcement discussion upon which no action was taken. Wal-Mart detractors take the City Council’s lack of opposition as evidence Marina is slipping further away from goals of higher wages and upscale demographics. How many other communities would allow a Wal-Mart located within a quarter mile of the coast, at the main entrance to the city? The regional context has certainly changed since 1992 with 4 major developments proposed within 5 miles: Marina Heights, University Villages, Marina Station, East Garrison. Not to mention the infill development already occurring. Today there will be an opportunity to view the documentary “The High Cost of Low Price” 7:00 at the VFW Hall, 3131 Crescent Ave., Marina. By taking advantage of this free screening, even just for the sake of curiosity, the pro Wal-Mart people may come to a better understanding of what drives the opposition’s fears.

Tina Walsh
Marina

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

FREE Screening: “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price”

Public Invited to Screening of “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price”
April 23 at 7 p.m. in Marina

Lisa Smithline from Brave New Films to Lead Discussion Following the Film Screening

The Reel Work May Day Labor Film Festval I exitd tobring Special Guest and Screening of the full-length documentary “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price,”Sunday, April 23 7 p.m. at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 811, located at 3131 Crescent Avenue in Marina. Lisa Smithline, vice president of marketing and political distribution at Brave New Films (the production company ) and executive director of Brave New Foundation, will lead a discussion on the effects Wal-Mart has on communities and what citizens can do about it. Admission is free; donations are accepted at the door. This film is unique
In that its released by passed the traditional theater outlets and instead was released to hundreds of home vewing parties, churches , schools and other locations via coordiantions over the internet. Tens f thousands participated and discussed the concerns raised regarding Wal-Mart’snegative mpact on local communities and having the architech of this unique strategy makes this a real opportunity for Marina residents.

The educational screening is sponsored by the Reel Work May Day Film Festival, Monterey Bay Central Labor Council, and Citizens Against Wal-Mart in Marina! Seating is limited and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.. For more information about this event, please contact Jim Kelly, 831-427-2535, Reel Work May Day Film Festival, or Patty Cramer, 831-384-6058, Citizens Against Wal-Mart In Marina!.

(Note: The film festival organizers are renting the VFW facility for this event. The VFW does not endorse any position on the Wal-Mart issue.)

******************************************************************************

WHAT: Free screening of “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” and discussion by…

WHO: Lisa Smithline, vice president of marketing and political distribution at Brave New Films (the production company that released the film)

WHEN: Sunday, April 23 at 7 p.m.

WHERE: Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 811, 3131 Crescent Avenue in Marina

April 18 City Council - Agenda Item 10c

Councilmember Morrison asked that an agenda item be added to a future City Council meeting to discuss setting minimum wage and benefit standards for Wal-Mart. After some discussion, this request was withdrawn and resubmitted as part of Councilmember McCall's agenda item request (see below).

Councilmember Gray asked that an agenda item be added to a future City Council meeting to discuss passing an ordinance in Marina similar to one passed in Turlock that has been upheld in California courts. The main point was that a retailer occupying more than 100,000 square feet could not have more than 5% of the store dedicated to grocery. This would prevent Wal-Mart from expanding into a Super Center but may allow them to build out from 92,000 square feet (the existing Kmart footprint) to 100,000 square feet. Please see attached SF Chronicle article on Turlock ordinance.

Councilmember McCall asked that an agenda item be added to a future City Council meeting to discuss forming an ad hoc committee, possibly consisting of 2 City Council members, City staff, and a Wal-Mart representative, to meet as needed to address items such as citizens' concerns and employees' concerns pertaining to Wal-Mart, partner on donations from Wal-Mart within the City, and partner on bringing other retail to the Marina Landing Shopping Center and downtown. After several comments during the broader discussion disagreeing with Councilmember Morrison's proposal for regulating wages and benefits, Morrison requested and McCall agreed to consider the topic as part of the proposed committee's agenda.

These items may not necessarily appear on the next City Council meeting agenda. Staff now have to go do their research and make recommendations to City Council.

My personal note: While I appreciate our City leaders attempts to mitigate the threat and problems caused by Wal-Mart, and their recognition that Wal-Mart comes with negative impacts on our community that need to be addressed, in my opinion, these actions need to go much further to protect our City and citizens. By invading our City, Wal-Mart is derailing Marina's General Plan and we as citizens need to work to protect the plan in which our City has invested so many years of time, energy and careful thought. Nonetheless, I always encourage debate of issues in a public forum and therefore spoke in favor of adding these items to a future meeting agenda. This just continues to allow us to voice our objections and present more substantive ideas for stopping Wal-Mart in its tracks.

Our primary goal is to still present our case to the Planning Commission that Tallen & Keshen may have negligently provided false material information at the Oct. 13, 2005 Planning Commission meeting on which the Commission based their decision to amend the use permit, and therefore, the Planning Commission should modify or revoke the use permit pursuant to the Marina Municipal Code. The Planning Commission has set a public hearing for their April 27 meeting, 6:30 pm, 211 Hillcrest Ave. to hear testimony, ask questions, evaluate their findings, and decide whether or not to have a second hearing to modify or revoke the use permit. This is what we've been fighting for and massive public participation is more important than ever. If you have not yet seen the October 13, 2005 Planning Commission meeting, we have it available on DVD and VHS for your convenience. Please watch it and decide for yourself.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Dear Marina Planning Commissioners

April 10, 2006

Marina Planning Commission
211 Hillcrest Ave.
Marina, CA 93933

Dear Commissioners:

We implore you to finish what began at your October 13, 2005 meeting in which the commission, at the urging of city staff and Tallen & Keshen Holdings, amended the use permit for 150 Beach Road (The Marina Landing Shopping Center) and adjourned the meeting with confidence that a synergistic, multi-use shopping center would be developed that Marina could be proud as part of our city’s downtown revitalization, the cornerstone of our tourism trade, and concurring with the Marina General Plan.

Many arguments have been put forth that Tallen & Keshen, at the very least, negligently provided false material information in their testimony at that meeting which led to your decision to amend the use permit. Conversely, arguments have also been put forth that Tallen & Keshen acted in good faith and within the letter of the law by leasing the property to Wal-Mart.
Only you, our Planning Commission, can ultimately decide the truth pursuant to Marina Municipal Code, Sections 17.48.010 and 17.48.060 (see Appendix A: Applicable Marina Municipal Code).

When Tallen & Keshen presented testimony concurrent with the Marina General Plan and City Council directives, to you, our Planning Commission, they were providing testimony to all Marina citizens. As our representatives and legislative body tasked with implementing our city’s General Plan and vision for our future, you have our confidence and trust that those comprehensive and well-conceived plans will be implemented.

Unfortunately, Marina city staff and City Council have repeatedly attempted to make this determination for you, referring to you only as an “advisory body to the City Council.” The Marina Municipal Code clearly provides the Planning Commission with full authority to act on behalf of its citizenry. The possibility of litigation resulting from your action either way is immaterial and should not enter into your decision-making process.

This issue began with our Planning Commission and we believe it must end with our Planning Commission. In accordance with the California Brown Act, Section 54954.2 (see Appendix B: Applicable California Brown Act), any single member of the Planning Commission may “direct staff to place a matter of business on a future agenda.” Nowhere in the Brown Act, the Marina Municipal Code, or Commission procedures is this right subject to review or consent by city staff, legal counsel, or City Council.

We believe that due process has not been afforded the Marina citizenry and city officials, and Tallen & Keshen Holdings to fully present their arguments before the appropriate authority, the Marina Planning Commission. We have many unanswered questions as to the expectations of the Planning Commission upon amending the 150 Beach Road use permit, the intentions and actions taken by Tallen & Keshen to improve the property and solicit tenants, and city staff’s awareness of Wal-Mart’s possible interest in that property earlier in 2005. We, as citizens, look to you, our government representatives, to ask questions and demand answers where we, as citizens of Marina, have no power individually or as part of a citizens collective to do so.

2005 Planning Commission Chairperson Bob Drake stated to Tallen & Keshen upon passing the amendment to the use permit, “Go forth and do good things in our community…If you fail we have ways.” On behalf of Marina citizens, we ask you to exercise your rights as our civic representatives by placing a hearing on your agenda to hear testimony by all sides, ask questions, evaluate the findings, rule on this issue, and explore those “ways.”

Thank you for your consideration of this pivotal matter in our community’s future.

Appendix A: Applicable Marina Municipal Code

17.48.010 Generally.

A. Use permits, revocable, conditional, or valid for a term period may be issued for any of the uses or purposes for which such permits are required or permitted by the terms of this title.

B. The planning commission shall have the power to hear and decide applications for, and issue use permits, for all uses for which a use permit is required or permitted.

C. As used in this chapter, the words “appropriate authority” means the planning commission when the application for a use permit is one which is within its power to issue. (Zoning ordinance dated 7/94 (part), 1994)

17.48.060 Revocation.

A. Where one or more of the conditions of the granting of a use permit have not been, or are not being complied with, or when a use permit was granted on the basis of false material information, written or oral, given wilfully or negligently by the applicant, the appropriate authority may revoke or modify such use permit following a hearing thereon. Notice of such hearing shall be given in writing to the permittee at least ten days prior to said hearing. Notice of such hearing shall be given as described in Section 17.48.030. Following the hearing, the appropriate authority may revoke or modify the use permit.

B. An appeal may be taken from such revocation or modification in the same manner as described in Section 17.48.050.

C. All use permits issued by the appropriate authority shall be valid until the date of expiration stated on the permit, or if no date of expiration is stated, or unless otherwise specified by the appropriate authority, all such permits shall expire one year from the date of granting said permit unless construction on, or use of the subject property has started within this period. (Zoning ordinance dated 7/94 (part), 1994)

Appendix B: Applicable California Brown Act

54954.2. (a) At least 72 hours before a regular meeting, the legislative body of the local agency, or its designee, shall post an agenda containing a brief general description of each item of business to be transacted or discussed at the meeting, including items to be discussed in closed session. A brief general description of an item generally need not exceed 20 words. The agenda shall specify the time and location of the regular meeting and shall be posted in a location that is freely accessible to members of the public.

No action or discussion shall be undertaken on any item not appearing on the posted agenda, except that members of a legislative body or its staff may briefly respond to statements made or questions posed by persons exercising their public testimony rights under Section 54954.3. In addition, on their own initiative or in response to questions posed by the public, a member of a legislative body or its staff may ask a question for clarification, make a brief announcement, or make a brief report on his or her own activities. Furthermore, a member of a legislative body, or the body itself, subject to rules or procedures of the legislative body, may provide a reference to staff or other resources for factual information, request staff to report back to the body at a subsequent meeting concerning any matter, or take action to direct staff to place a matter of business on a future agenda.