The Citizens of Galt against the World (Wal Mart)

Twenty miles south of Sacramento is the City of Galt.  The six square mile city is the home to 24,000 people.    The city’s doesn’t have much of a commercial area and it’s citzens typically travel north to Elk Grove or South to Lodi to shop.

Enter Wal Mart, the 133,000 square foot  supercenter would bring much needed tax revenues to Galt.

Wal-mart’s desire to open a store in Galt goes back to 2006.   It’s initial plan was to build an 200,000 square foot store.  The West Sacramento Wal Mart Supercenter is 237,000 square feet.   (In comparison, the average Costco is 150,000 square feet)

Last year, a Group calling itself Galt Citizens for Sensible Planning  claimed that the city  violated the California Environmental Quality Act, and have filed a separate action for what they say are violations of the city’s planning and zoning laws. They also claimed  that the EIR, or Environmental Impact Report, “is not adequate and does not comply with the CEQUA Act and CEQUA guidelines.”

Petitioners also contend that the “project violates the state planning and zoning laws by failing to include a community and neighborhood impact study of the Walmart project as required by the city’s Big Box ordinance.”  The action also makes claims against the project’s economic studies and adherence to city municipal codes.

Walmart is paying the cities legal fees.

The Citizens group hired, Davis lawyer William Kopper, who has a history of fighting Walmart projects throughout Northern California.  Kopper has twice filed legal documents with Sacramento Superior Court challenging the city’s approval of the project and the environmental documents that must be generated and approved according to California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) standards.

The trial court determined in January 2011 that the environmental report prepared for the Walmart project was adequate in all respects, except for the noise analysis relating to forklifts to be used at the store,” said Jason Behrmann(Galt City Manager). “The city and Walmart revised the noise analysis and returned to the court for confirmation that the revised noise analysis was adequate.”

Mr Behrmann said as of Sept. 29, the trial courts had determined that the deficiency had been corrected and discharged the preemptory writ, which prevented Walmart from taking further actions on the project without potential further legal problems.

The Citizens for Sensible Planning directed Kopper to file an appeal of the court’s decision, an action that could take up to a year to be heard. Knowing that, the courts, said Behrmann, ordered both parties into mediation and advised they would not hear the appeal until/unless such mediation measures were taken first.

“It is anticipated that a decision from the appellate court will take about one year,” said Behrmann. “The appellate court has ordered that parties attempt to mediate a resolution of this case, which has been scheduled for Oct. 29.”

Walmart Supercenters has found resistance all over the country.  Two years ago the company announced plans for smaller stores called Wal Mart Express, these stores will be 10  to 15,000 square feet  the plans are to open hundreds of these stores across the country.  The first store opened in June in Gentry, Arkansas and the second store opened in Chicago last July.

Wal-Mart, which is trying to jump-start revenue growth after seven straight quarters of declining sales at U.S. stores open at least a year, wouldn’t elaborate on when and where the smaller locations would be built.

Meanwhile, back in Galt, the question is can the Citizens and Wal Mart reach and agreement or will Wal Mart lose interest.


Sources: Galt Herald, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Times