Friday, March 25, 2011

Union City covers W4 WalMart

WARD 4 CALLS LATEST WALMART PLAN “TERRIBLE”: Walmart’s latest plan for a store in the District’s Ward 4 is "165 pages of terrible ideas," says Ward 4 Thrives member and community activist Virginia Leavell. "This plan does nothing to address our concerns about poverty wages, the driving out of small businesses, and the traffic nightmare this will cause around the intersection of Georgia and Missouri Avenues," said Michele Baskin, also with Ward 4 Thrives. In response to the plan, released earlier this week, Ward 4 Thrives, along with the Living Wages, Healthy Communities Coalition will be holding a rally at the proposed site (5929 Georgia Ave NW) tomorrow at 10:30a. Check out the Walmart-Foulger-Pratt plan online. - photo: artist's depiction of the Walmart planned for construction on Georgia Ave NW

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Public Release of Large Tract Review

Click here for 165 pages of terrible ideas.

And read the City Paper's first take on it as well. Surprise, it's a WalMart!

Large Tract Review submitted to Office of Planning

W4T was informed yesterday that Foulger Pratt has submitted the Large Tract Review for the proposed development of a WalMart in Ward Four. The LTR should include a traffic study, environmental study, and other elements of the development proposal.

Stay tuned for the W4T release of the plan, and stay even more tuned for upcoming actions in response.

Also, until then, come out Saturday to show your support for community led development in Ward Four!

Join us Saturday, March 26, at 10:30am in front of the Curtis Chevrolet site on Georgia and Missouri Ave!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Saturday Ward Four Thrives Action

Please join us this Saturday, March 26, at 10:30am in front of the Curtis Chevrolet site on Georgia and Missouri Ave.

Meet your fellow Ward 4 residents as we generate publicity about why Walmart should stay out of Ward 4! We've have flyers, signs, and a big 'ol banner. Come out, enjoy the weather, have fun, and get the word out about community led development!

Monday, March 21, 2011

One retailer’s wish for Wal-Mart

One retailer’s wish for Wal-Mart
Washington Business Journal - by Gary Cha
Date: Friday, March 18, 2011

Bringing locally sourced organic foods to underserved Washington neighborhoods has been my life’s passion, spanning 28 years and seven community markets.

From our first location on Connecticut Avenue to our newest store in Anacostia, our continued expansion has proved that all neighborhoods — regardless of economic status — welcome access to healthy food choices.

We’ve honed our model, spending more time listening than talking. We pride ourselves on giving our customers more of what they want and less of what we think they need. This business model has allowed us to prosper.

Hence, I urge D.C. political leaders to follow a similar course in addressing Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s proposal to build four stores in the District.

In the same way our elected officials listen to Wal-Mart’s lobbyists who are spreading lots of largess around town, I urge that they hear people like me, joined by members of the Think Local First D.C. business alliance who have survived tough economic times and earned our stripes as a vital part of the D.C. community, especially in underserved and low-income areas.

We chose to be part of these communities because the people living there deserve healthy choices. Our Pennsylvania Avenue, Georgia Avenue and 14th Street stores are all part of mixed-use developments, with housing or other retail operations that celebrate neighborhood revitalization.

Like the products we offer, we strive to be an organic part of the community. We’ve stood our ground against national competitors like Whole Foods, settling on a kind of peaceful coexistence that makes all consumers beneficiaries.

No one can argue against a healthy mix of national, small and locally owned businesses. But I question whether Wal-Mart, given its size and habit of crushing competitors, will be willing to coexist.

Look no further than a track record that reaps devastation on competitors, neighbors, employees and local governments. The new jobs Wal-Mart promises should be measured against better-paying jobs that may be lost. According to a recent study, for every two jobs Wal-Mart creates, three jobs are lost.

Another study found that when a Wal-Mart opened in Chicago in 2006, one in four retail businesses within a mile of the store closed within a year.

Locally owned businesses like Yes! Organic Market plow our profits back into the economy. We invest mightily in D.C. with stable jobs and advancement opportunities for employees. We serve on local boards and attend advisory neighborhood commission meetings.

We come to those venues, not with one-time payoffs to win backers — a practice that characterizes Wal-Mart’s lobbying tactics — but with respect for the communities where we live and work.

Our local officials should take a cue from Wal-Mart’s impact in other communities and assure a level playing field for local businesses that have invested capital and sweat equity in D.C.

How can you compete with the biggest retailer on earth? The answer rests here in D.C. Political and community leaders can exert leverage. This company has literally saturated rural and suburban communities in this country. All that remains for Wal-Mart growth are urban centers like D.C.

So, the question is not what we get from Wal-Mart coming. It should be what we demand from the company in the first place and over the long haul that will justify it staying.

An enforceable, measurable plan could chart a new path for Wal-Mart and give our capital city an opportunity to set a standard that others can embrace.

Wal-Mart’s foray here may be part of its urban experiment. But we have lived a rich, urban experience and gained as much as we’ve given along the way.

Unless the D.C. Council demands that Wal-Mart codify its pledges in an enforceable community benefits agreement, the District’s economic future is at risk.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

No Biggie: Big Box Living Wage is Back with some Friends

Maybe you remember similar proposed legislation from 2007. The "Big Box Living Wage" would require all stores over 75,000 sq feet to pay at least $11.75. More or less. City Paper covers it here. The second bill would vaguely require all big boxes to sign Community Benefits Agreements in order to operate in DC.

City Council reps are lining up to support the bills. Mendelson introduced both bills, with Bowser and Alexander cosponsoring the Community Benefits piece, and Graham cosponsoring the Big Box Living Wages.

W4T still demands there be no WalMart in Ward Four, but does have a few questions about what's up in the Wilson Building.

  • Given the wide discrepancies of effective and ineffective CBAs out there, how does this bill define a CBA and
  • Is it legally binding and enforceable?
  • With whom can WalMart sign a CBA, anyway? Anyone?
  • Are there minimum standards that a CBA would have to cover?

What's RespectDC think of all this?

Any action by the city council to hold WalMart accountable is a plus.

But the coalition's posiiton is that the CBA bill needs be strengthened. Still to be defined: What groups can sign a CBA? Is this legally enforceable? What about traffic, the environment, small business, hours of operation, and security? How does DC solve those problems?

Ward Four Thrives meeting tonight!

Come on down to the Fort Stevens Rec Center at 13th and Van Buren tonight- 6:30-8:30. Our friends from Respect DC will be there as well!

Chat strategy for the impending Large Tract Review submission, canvassing, and a million ways to get involved!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

City Council is hopp'n

Keep your eyes on the news today, as a whole heap of exciting legislation is being introduced.

What would DC look like if every retailer bigger than 75,000 feet was required to sign a Community Benefits Agreement? What would DC look like with living wages?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Concrete Kudzu: DC fights back

With Foulger Pratt's large tract review submission imminent, Ward Four residents fan out across Ward Four to gather signatures of residents opposing the neighborhood big box. Canvassing has expanded from the Safeway near the proposed site to weekend door knocking.

Residents met with city council hopeful Sekou Biddle last week at a small house meeting where WalMart featured prominently in discussion. In a nutshell: Biddle's got nothing to say.

And in news news, the Northwest Current calls for public hearings on Walmart. (W4t wonders is Michael Brown gets the Northwest Current like the rest of us..) A highlight: a nod at the ridiculous public process opportunities and a call out of the "nebulous" large tract review process that seemingly is only used for site design.

W4T similarly is encouraged by heightened action around DC and in the similarly sieged wards five, six and seven. Phonebanking, canvassing, and public ANC debates abound.

Until the updated count on petition numbers later today, contextualize yourself with this video for your week.

From Left to Right: Janelle Carter, Andy Shallal, Barbara Ehrenreich, Bethanie Pointer, Kerry Korpi, Sandra Carpenter, Cynthia Murray at Busboys and Poets' successful 'Women, Workers and Walmart' panel discussion (thanks Respect DC!)