Opposition won’t stop Walmart

August 20, 2012 

Let me say right up front I like Tom Comar. Seven years ago, I wrote what was probably the first opinion piece urging that Atascadero do what it could to avoid having a Walmart.

That stated, I’m sorry to learn that a citizens’ group known as Save Atascadero, of which Comar is the spokesman, has filed a lawsuit against the recently approved Walmart for the Del Rio and El Camino Real corner.

To say that the city failed to follow all the rules of the California Environmental Quality Act or the advice of experts in granting approval of the giant box store for Atascadero is highly debatable.

It is the kind of debate that keeps attorneys gainfully employed as the issues get argued before a judge.

I’ve written repeatedly that the environmental impact reports were created in the first place as another way to stop development. The same reports on any given project are proved worthy or unworthy based often on the same data contained in the thousands of pages of a report that cost the developer lots of bucks.

EIRs are much like general plans. One former councilman, the late George Highland, often said a general plan means whatever any three votes says it means on any given night.

Tom Comar and his followers were given ample time to oppose Walmart during all those public hearings before both the Planning Commission and, finally, the five-member City Council.

Those who loved the idea that we were going to get a Walmart took advantage of those same public hearings.

Voters even rejected a measure that would have limited the area for grocery sales in the proposed Walmart store.

I have said often over the past seven years that I was opposed to Walmart but wasn’t going to chain myself to the bulldozer. I found in my circle of friends that I was in the minority when it came to welcoming a Walmart to Atascadero. Save Atascadero is part of that same small minority and should accept that the people have spoken.

I predict Walmart will end up building its new store in Atascadero.

Save Atascadero’s action won’t change that, but it will cause the city to spend money it doesn’t really have to defend this action over what is predicted will be a year’s delay.

Lon Allan writes special to The Tribune. He can be reached at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.

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