Urban Fold

Court Grants Local Power Over Big Box Locations

A California State Supreme Court ruling has given cities and counties broad authority of what type of retail developments can move into their municipalities, and where they can be located. Under the ruling, cities will be able to ban big box stores.

"But the court also made it clear that elected officials are entitled to decide what kind of commercial development they prefer, regardless of whether big-box stores are allowed and even if the effect is to restrict competition."

"Wal-Mart, which unsuccessfully challenged the rejection of a proposed supercenter last year in Turlock (Stanislaus County), has estimated that 20 cities and counties in Northern California ban or limit its stores. They include San Francisco and Oakland."

"The Supreme Court ruling 'will affect all battles in California where Wal-Mart and other big-box retailers are trying to force their way into cities that don't want them,' said attorney Steven Mayer, who represented Hanford, where an ordinance actually favored big department stores, including Wal-Mart, Sears and Home Depot, by allowing them to sell furniture in a particular shopping area while banning smaller furniture stores."

"'Local elected officials may have a bias or animus against a particular entity or they may have a purely private reason for making that decision, but as long as they state a public reason, they won't be questioned,' Ryan said. He said his client was considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court."

Full Story: Court backs local control over big-box sites


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