TWK’s hilarious yet painful year-end review of City Council follies doesn’t mention their persistent quest to subsidize profitable big-box enterprises at the expense of existing stores and local shop keepers. When Judy Pruden and the Planning Commission listened to the people in the street and would not approve the Walmart Super Store earlier this year, the City Council did not have the cojones or more properly the fegato to override the Commission’s advice. Yet, the City Council still hopes to pay $6.2 million from tax anticipation bonds for road access and a high capacity round-about to funnel shoppers over from Highway 101 and into the planned CostCo Big Box. The RDA funds they once set aside for this have been denied by the State Department of Finance (most recently in their very terse Oct. 11, 2012 letter) but somehow Mayor Landis, City Manager Jane Chambers and her staff still hold out hope that they can sneak this past while the Sacramento bureaucracy is looking some other way.
Walmart had also wanted the City to pay for this self-same roundabout but were turned down by Ms. Pruden. Now, if somehow CostCo gets the City to buy this heavy duty private enterprise driveway, guess who will be first in line to reapply for their “Superstore”? It has already been well researched that the community needs no more supermarkets (most recently by Walmart’s own planner), nor out-of-state behemoths selling us clothing, appliances and liquor. If these guys want to steal customers from our local businesses, shouldn’t they at least pay for their own right-of-way?
The original Redevelopment Act was intended to provide funding for low and moderate income housing projects that private banks would not finance and to cure urban blight. The City Council still thinks the Big Box is a cure for urban blight. To their credit, the City has built some needed low income housing, but we are still saddled with over $8 million in high interest rate bonds intended to finance infrastructure for corporate projects. The same Council Members who still sit on their high dais at Town Hall approved these bonds early in 2010. The State warned us in the spring of 2011 and has told us again unequivocally on January 31, 2012 not to spend any more of our future tax funds for charity projects to subsidize the likes of Walmart and CostCo.
Come on, Tommy Wayne, those mishaps with the water pumps, the Xmas lights, soluble glue for sidewalk tiles, downtown facade beautification, a curbside dining venue, and that inane City slogan are just the smallest rotten potatoes still moldering down at City Hall. The smell downtown may be far out, but its really nearby!