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Chinatown Ban on Big-Box Stores Approved

The Los Angeles City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee voted Tuesday 2-1 in favor of a policy that would temporarily ban large chain retail in Chinatown.

“We applaud the PLUM Committee for standing up for the concerns of Chinatown,” said Aiha Nguyen, director of the L.A. Alliance for a New Economy’s (LAANE) Grocery and Retail Project in a written statement. “We’re optimistic the City Council vote will reflect the support and recommendations of the PLUM Committee.”

LAANE’s statement says the decision would prevent Walmart from building an already approved neighborhood store on Cesar Chavez and Grand avenues, however, a city planning official said Tuesday that PLUM’s vote would not affect building permits already issued, according to the 89.3 KPPC website.

The Interim Control Ordinance’s (ICO) policy would impose a one-year moratorium on large chain retail development in the historic Chinatown community until further study and public input on its impacts could be collected. The ban could last up to 2 years and would affect retailers with more than 11 locations and stores 20,000-square-feet or larger.

In June 2012, Walmart’s plans to open a store in Chinatown were protested by thousands of community members concerned over how the large retailer would impact local small businesses.

The store’s building permits have been under appeal since April, according to the Chinatown Community for Equitable Development (CCED). The appeals have raised concerns that Walmart received favorable treatment through expedited building permits while top leadership within the CRA and Planning Department deliberately ignored the pending ICO.