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News Coverage

Oakley Citizen Group Sponsors Thursday Town Hall About Wal-Mart

Oakley citizen group sponsors Thursday Town Hall About Wal-Mart, 'Big Box' development in city

A Town Hall Meeting to discuss big box development and environmental concerns over a Wal-Mart SuperCenter project will be held here THURSDAY, March 13 at 7 p.m. at the Vintage Parkway Elementary School Multi-Purpose Room, 1000 Vintage Parkway.

The main focus of the Oakley gathering will be to discuss the proposed River Oaks big box project site and the pending Environmental Impact Report (EIR) hearings being planned in the near future by the City of Oakley, according to Save Oakley Now, a citizen group opposing the project.

The proposed Wal-Mart SuperCenter, which was the only applicant for this controversial 77-acre Main Street development project, backed out of the project a couple weeks ago citing economic reasons for their decision.

"Before we proceed with adopting any EIR on a dead project with some kind of blind or blanket approval for future big box stores we need to hold an open community discussion about the desirability of such a development in our community and the impacts that it will have on current city plans to redevelop our downtown," said Bob Caughron, spokesperson for Save Oakley Now.

"It's not too late to include the citizens and taxpayers of Oakley in the process of deciding what kind of commercial growth we want in our community. Bigger is not necessarily better," he added.

Save Oakley Now also announced it will be releasing a report prepared by University of Florida professor and nationally-recognized business geographer, Grant Thrall, PH.D, on the current conflicting big box and downtown development plans in Oakley, reported Caughron.

Land use attorney Mark Wolfe, representing Save Oakley Now, will also address the current big box development proposal pending in Oakley.

The meeting is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.


Supes replace airport panel commissioner

By Danny Bernardini/Staff Writer Article Launched: 01/23/2008 08:46:08 AM PST

The discussion regarding the makeup of the Solano County Airport Land Use Commission, already simmering, boiled over into the county supervisors meeting Tuesday as the board replaced one member of the commission and discussed changing by-laws. The Solano County Board of Supervisors balked at the idea of no longer allowing a Vallejo mayor to appoint a member of the ALUC, but voted unanimously to appoint Dale Baumler to the commission. Click here for rest of story


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Wednesday, January 23, 2008 Contact: California Healthy Communities Network 916-996-9170

Solano County Board of Supervisors replace airport commission member who voted to kill Wal-Mart project; residents call it ‘retaliatory'

FAIRFIELD, Ca. – The Solano County Board of Supervisors Tuesday succeeded – over objections of community groups – in replacing one member of the independent Solano County Airport Land Use Commission which voted to kill a Wal-Mart project in Suisun last November because of safety concerns.

The board backed off adopting a new County ordinance that would have effectively changed the composition and eliminated the term protections for SCALUC commissioners.

The Commission angered Suisun local and county officials by voting 5-2 in November to reject the 230,000 Wal-Mart Supercenter development because it was in a "safety buffer zone" near Travis Air Force Base and could threaten the safety of shoppers and residents.

The supervisors Tuesday replaced outgoing SCALUC member John Peters with Dale Baumier, who was removed several years ago from the commission for undisclosed reasons. Supervisor Jim Spering, former Mayor of Suisun, who has a long history with the controversial Suisun Wal-Mart project, recommended this appointment. Peters, a retired air force pilot, opposed the location of the big box project.

"This was political retaliation (for the vote against Wal-Mart)," said Anthony Moscarelli, one of the county residents at the meeting. And, Dwight Acey, another resident, agreed efforts by the Board to emasculate the commission "look like retaliatory measures."

In a separate Board action, community activists and vets convinced the board that it would look "suspicious" if it also approved a measure to revamp and, in fact, "decapitate" the SCALUC leadership.

"Taking action on the proposed reformation ordinance of the SCALUC at this time is ill-advised and undermines the legal land use process underway in Suisun and should be delayed until the SCALUC Wal-Mart hearings are completed," said Phil Tucker, project director of California Healthy Communities Network, a project of non-profit Tides Center. Tucker also recommended against any new appointments to the commission while SCALUC-Suisun hearings are in progress.

The next hearing on the proposed Suisun Wal-Mart project is Tuesday, January 29, at 5 p.m. at Suisun City Hall. The city will commence proceedings to overrule the SCALUC’s findings at that hearing.

The SCALUC is not alone in questioning the location of the Wal-Mart development. CalTRANS has written a letter in support of the commission, and a national pipeline safety organization said it was "troubling" that plans for the project did not recognize that a potentially dangerous jet fuel pipeline would be in the adjacent to it.

The SCALUC was authorized by the California State legislature in 2002, to develop and review the compatibility of all development in the encroachment areas (“safety buffer zones”) of Travis AFB, largest area-employer, with a primary responsibility to oversee development consistent with their airbase plan and to protect the base from closure. According to a 2004 UC Berkeley study authorized by the State of California, encroachment is the number one reason for military base closure in the U.S.

In addition to the $1.5 billion in annual county revenue, over 65,000 military retirees reside in Solano County and depend on Travis for important services, including healthcare.


NEWS CONFERENCE ADVISORY
Monday, January 22, 2008
Contact: Dwight Acey, Suisun Citizens League 510-589-1439 or 916-996-9170

Attention: Daybook/Assignment Desk

Jet fuel pipeline, planes pose safety risk to Wal-Mart project; Officials ignore threat, set to oust members of airport advisory group that voted to reject store

FAIRFIELD, Ca. –Elected officials here are ignoring warnings about a public safety threat from a Wal-Mart Supercenter project – and instead have initiated a plan to oust military pilots sitting on a county airport commission which voted in November to oppose the project because of those same safety concerns.

A news conference will be held TUESDAY, 10 a.m. at the Solano County Board of Supervisors Meeting (675 Texas Street), regarding not-too-secret plans to "decapitate" the Solano County Airport Land Use Commission (SCALUC) leadership for political reasons.

The Solano County Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday on a proposed ordinance amendment to allow firings of SCALUC members without just cause, undermining the regulatory powers and independence of the commission.

The 230,000 square foot Wal-Mart project in Suisun was scheduled for a public hearing Tuesday, but the Suisun City Council abruptly postponed it when they learned thousands of Travis Air Force Base retirees and residents had been alerted to the hearing.

The Suisun City Council said it will override the 5-2 vote of the SCALUC, and the mayor has said they will replace SCALUC chairman John Foster, a decorated military pilot. Region mayors have already announced they will listen to arguments to oust Foster next month.

The SCALUC – which includes a number of retired or current pilots and veterans – are being supported by CalTRANS, which wrote that it agreed with the conclusions by the commission about the safety factor of the project.

And, a national pipeline safety organization wrote Travis AFB, congressional leaders, Suisun City Council and federal agencies, stating it was "troubling" that a dangerous jet fuel pipeline running near the Wal-Mart has not been addressed in project planning.

Military retirees also fear the encroachment by the city on the base could force Travis, the biggest area-employer, to close, affecting services to 65,000 retirees in Solano County.


Airport commission sends letter warning not to build Wal-Mart for 'safety' reasons

By Judyth Piazza

Airport commission sends letter warning not to build Wal-Mart for 'safety' reaso Suisun City warned in letter by airport board not to build Wal-Mart Supercenter because of safety' concerns to residents

The Solano County Airport Land Use Commission sent an urgent letter to the Suisun City Council this week specifically asking it not approve a proposal to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter because of safety concerns, said a community group opposed to the Wal-Mart project today.

The airport commission, which voted 5-2 in early November to oppose the Wal-mart plan because its proximity to Travis Air Force Base would pose a safety threat to shoppers, has discussed telling the city of Suisun would be taking full responsibility if an aircraft accident should occur, according to published reports.

That part was left out of the letter, reportedly, but the airport commission still urged the city to withdraw the project. The city has suggested it would overrule the advisory commission, which includes several longtime military and commercial pilots within 45 days of the Nov. 8 vote.

"Residents are struggling to understand why the mayor and the city council do not comprehend the seriousness of this matter. Their support of the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune over public safety is simply malfeasance in office," said Dwight Acey, spokesperson for the Suisun Citizens League.

"We are thankful that the Solano County Airport Land Use Commission has made another attempt to reach the Mayor and our City Councilmembers in an effort to point out the importance of maintaining aviation safety in our city," he added.

judythpiazza@newsblaze.com

Copyright © 2007, NewsBlaze, Daily News


Commission: Proposed Wal-Mart inconsistent with Travis land use plans

By Ian Thompson DAILY REPUBLIC

FAIRFIELD - A proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter is too intense a commercial use to be located so close to Travis Air Force Base, the Solano County Airport Land Use Commission declared Thursday night.

It will be now up to the Suisun City Council to decide whether to override the commission decision that voted 5-2 that the proposed Supercenter was inconsistent with the Travis Airport Land Use Plan.

'It is the safety of Suisun City that is the issue,' commission Chairman John Foster said following a public hearing where most of the two dozen people who spoke opposed the Supercenter.

'It makes me uncomfortable,' commissioner John Kakacek said. 'I love Wal-Mart, but the location bothers me too much.'

The retail giant wants to build a 227,000-square-foot Supercenter on a 20.8-acre triangle of land just north of Highway 12 and just west of Walters Road. Plans also include a service station and a sit-down restaurant.

The commission majority overturned a Solano County planner's staff report that stated the proposed Supercenter was consistent with the base's land use plan.

The main issue centered on how many people per acre can be allowed on the proposed Supercenter site.

Under the plan, the proposed Supercenter can't have more than an average of 75 people per acre at any one time (averaged over the entire site), or 300 people per any single acre at one time.

Suisun City's leaders contend that the number of people who would be using the Supercenter would be well under the maximum allowed while opponents state the number would exceed that limit.

Both Foster and several speakers cast doubt on the figures contained in the staff report put together by Solano County planners which said the supercenter is consistent with Travis' airport land use plan.

'Staff is trying to use numbers to fit their decision,' resident and former Solano County Supervisor Skip Thomson said.

Foster pressed his attack using news articles describing crowding at Wal-Mart stores during special sales and reports of injuries suffered by shoppers during these events.

Suisun City Manager Suzanne Bragdon defended the county staff report calling it 'a sound conservative conclusion that assumed a worst case scenario' of how many people would be at the Supercenter when it's parking lot is full.

Ben Hulse, the city's consultant on the project, added that if Travis would have commented on the proposal 'if they felt in any way that Travis would be jeopardized.'

Wal-Mart opponents countered saying that Travis has long had a tradition of not commenting at all publicly on land use decisions around the base.

Supporters pointed out that the county staff report relied on several sources for coming up with its recommendations while opponents stated those sources were all ones supplied by Suisun City.

Wal-Mart opponents initially asked that the commission delay its decision until after a final environmental impact report was completed on the Supercenter, but did not mind it that the commission voted against the project.

A final environmental impact report on the proposed Supercenter is expected out by late December. The Suisun City Planning Commission and the City Council could approve the project as early as January.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.


Commission rejects plan by Wal-Mart

By Danny Bernardini//Staff Writer Article Launched: 11/09/2007 07:35:07 AM PST

Citing inconsistent staff reports and a fear for public safety, a county commission Thursday night shot down a proposal for a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Suisun City.

The Solano County Airport Land Use Commission voted 5-2 that the environmental documents for the store were not consistent with Travis Air Force Base Land Use Compatibility Plan (TALUCP).

"Public safety is the issue,"commission chairman John Foster said before the vote. "It should be a unanimous decision based on the charter."

Commissioners heard reports from Solano County staff, Suisun City staff and managers, legal teams for Wal-Mart and more than an hour of public comment before voting against the project.

The proposed project would include 230,000 square feet of commercial space including the 215,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter, plus a fuel station with mini-mart, an 8,000-square-foot sit-down restaurant or commercial use site and parking on a 20.8-acre site.

At issue was how many people would occupy the store, to be located at the northwest corner of Highway 12 and Walters Road. The TALUCP calls for no more than 300 people per acre on the site and no more than an average of 75 people indoors per acre.

County staff maintained, that by using a formula of 1.5 people per automobile and taking into account how many parking spaces were in the lot, that only 70.2 people per acre would occupy the store at a time. Staff said their calculations took into account that every parking lot space would be occupied.

Much of the commissioners' discussions centered around how the number of people per car was estimated. Foster had several issues with the calculations of shoppers, and cited numerous news articles that showed crowds of up to 2,000 people at special events or sales.

"I'm suspect of how this 1.5 was created," Foster said. "We should be counting people, not parking spaces."

The issue will now return to the City Council of Suisun City.

Danny Bernardini can be reached at county@thereporter.com.


URGENT NEWS ADVISORY Friday, November 9, 2007 Contact: California Healthy Communities Network, 916/996-9170

Wal-Mart project location rejected; It would pose threat to shoppers, violate air base safety rules, votes Solano Airport Land Use Commission

FAIRFIELD, Ca. – A proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter in Suisun City should not be built because its proximity to Travis Air Force Base would pose a safety threat to shoppers, the Solano County Airport Land Use Commission decided in a late night meeting Thursday here.

In a 5-2 vote before more than 100 residents in an overflow meeting room, the commission – which included several former military pilots – agreed the 230,000 square foot Wal-Mart, gas station and other buildings were "inconsistent" with the Travis AFB Land Use Compatibility Plan for "safety" reasons.

Commission chair John Foster, in comments echoed by other commission members and residents, said the county's assertion that the Wal-Mart project would be within the safety limits allowed by the air base plan was wrong, and suggested the "risk" to residents was too great to approve the project, which would be built within the air base "safety buffer zone."

"The county has used a low-ball figure to try to justify this project, risking the safety of residents. This is the wrong development at the wrong location," said Phil Tucker, director of California Healthy Communities, a project of the non-profit Tides Center.

The project will now move to the Suisun City Council after a review of the Environmental Impact Statement. The airport commission's rebuff was only the latest for Wal-Mart in the Bay Area. Several stores have been rejected or delayed in the past 18 months because of citizen concern.

"The county's decision to compromise safety of residents to (gain) tax revenue is improper," said Dwight Acey of the Suisun Citizens League, while the spokesperson for Suisun Alliance, Paul Greenlee, chastised the county consultants of "playing with the numbers and playing with our lives" for recommending the project be approved.

Suisun resident Sally Green, a pilot and Vietnam veteran, said – along with several other former military pilots – said the weather, and increased activity since the Iraq War began, would pose serious risk to shoppers if a Wal-Mart at the Suisun location is built.


Bay City News Wire SOLANO CO.: SUISUN WAL-MART SUPERCENTER SUBJECT OF DEBATE TONIGHT 11/08/07 3:45 PST SUISUN (BCN)

The controversy over a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter in Suisun has landed in the laps of members of the Solano County Airport Land Use Commission.

The commission is scheduled to decide whether the proposed 227,000-square-foot project that includes a restaurant and gas station is compatible with the county's Airport Land Use Plan.

Citizens groups opposed to the Wal-Mart project, including the Suisun Alliance and the Suisun Citizens League, say the Wal-Mart Superstore project will add thousands of additional cars a day on dangerous state Highway 12.

They claim the project violates a provision of the county's airport land use plan that prohibits more than 300 people per acre on the site and that that number will be exceeded during the holidays.

The project is expected to generate 510 new vehicle trips in the peak morning hours and 877 during the peak evening hours, according to an environmental study.

Opponents say the Supercenter will threaten and encroach on Travis Air Force Base. Supporters say the project will provide needed tax revenue, perhaps $800,000 a year.

Paul Greenlee of Suisun Alliance said that extra revenue will need to be spent on additional police and fire services. He said there is a Wal-Mart store 3 miles away in Fairfield and another Wal-Mart Supercenter is planned in Fairfield. That Supercenter is the subject of a lawsuit.

Tonight's decision by the Solano County Land Use Commission is critical, Greenlee said. If the commission decides the proposed Supercenter is consistent with the Solano County Airport Land Use Plan, only three members of the Suisun City Council will need to approve it.

If the commission decides the Wal-Mart project is inconsistent, four of the City Council's five members will need to approve the project, Greenlee said. A vote is expected in January.

"We want the commission to hold off on voting until the final environmental impact report is done in December," Greenlee said. A draft environmental report on the project has been completed and public comment on it ended Monday.


Commission rejects plan by Wal-Mart By Danny Bernardini
11/09/2007

Citing inconsistent staff reports and a fear for public safety, a county commission Thursday night shot down a proposal for a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Suisun City. The Solano County Airport Land Use Commission voted 5-2 that the environmental documents for the store were not consistent with Travis Air Force Base Land Use Compatibility Plan (TALUCP).  Click here for the rest of the story


Report: Wal-Mart won't interfere with Travis By Ian Thompson DAILY REPUBLIC SUISUN CITY - Whether or not a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter in eastern Suisun City adversely affects Travis Air Force Base lands back before the Airport Land Use Commission on Thursday. 11/06/2007

Solano County planners will assert the supercenter won't attract more people to the store than allowed by the Travis airport land use plan.

'We agree that it is consistent and that it will not harm Travis Air Force Base,' Suisun City Manager Suzanne Bragdon said of this latest report.

The retail giant wants to build a 227,000-square-foot supercenter on a 20.8-acre triangle of land just north of Highway 12 and just west of Walters Road. Plans also include a service station and a sit-down restaurant.

Initially, planners said the supercenter is consistent with Travis' airport land use plan despite a caveat that stated that during the holiday season it will attract more people to the store than is allowed.

Under the plan, the proposed Superstore can't have more than an average of 75 people per acre at any one time (averaged over the entire site), or 300 people per any single acre at one time.

Just before the commission's early October public hearing, planners recrunched the numbers and decided the supercenter violated the airport land use plan because of what they called a holiday season 'worst-case scenario.'

The new findings were presented just as the meeting started and angry Suisun City officials successfully demanded the public hearing be postponed to give them time to examine the new information.

Armed with studies from three different traffic-consulting firms, Suisun City fired back in late October arguing that the county overestimated how many people would be at the supercenter at any one time.

In response, the county staff recrunched their numbers a second time and now say that the Supercenter is indeed consistent with the Travis airport land use plan.

Wal-Mart opponents slammed the proposal at a Monday morning news conference, saying the superstore will encroach on the base and threaten its future.

'It would encroach on Travis in a negative way and would prompt the Air Force to move or reduce activity at the base,' Wal-Mart opponent Dwight Acey of Suisun City said.

Acey and others reiterated that the Supercenter would make Highway 12 more dangerous and bring blight to nearby neighborhoods.

Supporters say Wal-Mart will not threaten Travis or other businesses in Suisun City but attract more of the retail dollars Suisun City residents now spend in Fairfield.

If the commission agrees that the Superstore is consistent with the Travis airport land use plan, the Suisun City Planning Commission and the City Council could approve the project as early as January.

The Airport Land Use Commission meets at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Solano County Administration Center at 675 Texas St.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.


Suisun City Superstore Battle Heats Up Written by Dan Adams, Reporter

News 10 ABC, Dan Adams Reports on Suisun City WalMart Plans, 11/05/07 6 p.m.

Residents of Solano County will have among their final chances this week to provide their input on a WalMart Supercenter that is proposed for Suisun City. The store, the size of four football fields, would be built on vacant land at the intersection of Highway 12 and Walters Road.

Suisun City planners accepted comments up until 5 p.m. Monday and this Thursday night, the Airport Land Use Commission will hold one of its final hearings. After accepting input, the commission is expected to make a non-binding recommendation to the city as to whether or not the project should proceed. Click here for the rest of the story 

Click here for News 10 ABC TV coverage of story

 


Posted: Monday, 05 November 2007 7:42AM

Critics Say Proposed Wal-Mart a Threat to Travis Air Force Base

SUISUN CITY, Calif. (KCBS) -- A Wal-Mart superstore proposed for Suisun City is drawing the fire of critics who claim the massive store would violate the buffer zone surrounding Travis Air Force Base.

That violation could be used as a reason to close the base, according to Cress Vallucci. "You can't have more than 300 people per acre, for obvious reasons. If something falls off a plane, like it did earlier this year, and falls into an area that's densely populated, like the middle of the sales line at Walmart, there could be some major injuries or deaths," he said.

Opponents also say the site’s environmental impact report underestimates the risks.

The project is still in the earliest stages. Suisun City’s Vice Mayor, Jane Day, said there hasn’t even been a formal presentation yet. "We are waiting until it comes in front of us in order to look at the pros and cons of anything," she said.

Travis Air Force Base is the county’s largest employer. Click here for Holly Quan Podcast


Suisun Residents to Hear Report Sunday on Wal-Mart Impact on Air, Water,
Traffic

SUISUN CITY, Ca. - Residents will learn at a special Community Meeting here Sunday that a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter will increase traffic by nearly 50 percent on nearby Highway 12 - known as "blood alley" - and surrounding streets, and will also dirty air, water and threaten to close Travis Air Force Base.

The meeting, set for Sunday, Oct. 28, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Joe Nelson Community Center (611 Village Drive), will be the first public look at the Draft Environmental Impact Report on the Wal-Mart project.  Click here for rest of story.


Protesters rally against proposed Wal-Mart center - Group hopes for poetic justice at City Council meeting

Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2007
By LESLIE ALBRECHT

lalbrecht@mercedsun-star.com

The City Council got a taste of political poetry Monday night from young activists fighting Wal-Mart's plan to build a distribution center in southeast Merced.

Two students from Golden Valley High School read poems against the proposed distribution center during the council meeting's public comment period. One poem, called "Taming the Beast," described the trucks that would serve the distribution center as "mindless predator(s) ...belch(ing) excrement."

Before the meeting the students joined about 40 other protesters to rally outside the Civic Center, chanting, "Whose air? Our air! Whose City Council? Our City Council!"

The protest marked another chapter in the increasingly vocal opposition to the Wal-Mart distribution center, which has become a regular feature of City Council meetings over the past several months.

Wal-Mart announced plans to build the distribution center two years ago; the project is now undergoing environmental review. The council will vote on the center when the environmental review is complete sometime this fall or winter.

Proponents say the project -- slated for a 275-acre parcel between Childs and Gerard avenues west of Tower Road -- would eventually bring 900 jobs to economically depressed Merced. Opponents say the 900 diesel truck trips the center would generate each day would worsen Merced's already poor air quality.

In April, Merced's Stop Wal-Mart Action Team announced a campaign to educate council members on its cause. Since then the group's members have been regular speakers at council meetings, bombarding the council with information about Merced's air quality and other issues. The group has also tried to drum up support by hosting events, including a picnic featuring pinatas shaped like Wal-Mart trucks.

Patrick Lauppe, the Golden Valley junior who read the poem called "Taming the Beast," said he wasn't worried that the council could grow weary of the sustained anti-Wal-Mart campaign.

"The more we attend these meetings, the more they'll realize we're unequivocally against this project and we won't let it into our town without a fight," said Lauppe.

In July, Wal-Mart representatives paid their own visit to the City Council. Spokesman Keith Morris told the council then that although the project's environmental review is taking longer than originally expected, Wal-Mart is "still committed to building the facility in Merced."

The anti-Wal-Mart folks showed up elsewhere on Monday night's council agenda. The group also submitted a letter applauding a proposed resolution on development policies, but the council failed to vote on the measure.

One policy would have directed city staff to carefully study how building shopping centers near the new Mission Avenue highway exit could affect area traffic. The site where Wal-Mart wants to build its distribution center is about three-quarters of a mile from new Mission Avenue exit.

The other policy would have told commercial developers that the City Council "is not inclined to entertain" requests for discounts on the fees developers pay when they build in Merced. The policy would also state that the City Council "refrains from negotiating impact fees (with developers) on an individual basis."

Councilwoman Michele Gabriault-Acosta said she worried that the policy on fee discounts could sound hostile to developers, and asked city staff to come up with some new language.

"To me it seems the door is shut and there's no ifs, ands or buts about it...I'd like to see something that explains (the policy) without shutting the door and saying (to developers) 'head to Madera,'" she said.

But Councilman Bill Spriggs urged his colleagues to OK the no-discount fee policy, noting that developer fees pay for critical infrastructure such as streets, parks and sewer capacity.

"It's incumbent on us to set policy that lets developers know that they're not going to blow into town, blow out of town, and let us live with their problems for the next 50 years," he said.

The council voted unanimously to send both items back to city staff, asking for more clarity in the resolution's language.

Reporter Leslie Albrecht can be reached at 209-385-2484 or lalbrecht@mercedsun-star.com


Wal-Mart still sees no love in the Bay Area
By Brian White , bloggingstocks.com

September 13th, 2007 Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) may not ever get any love in the San Francisco area. The world's largest retailer had its hopes for more store frontage in the San Francisco Bay Area dashed this week when the retailer's primary construction vendor pulled out from its prior application to build the big-box location. The vendor was controlled by a family that was apparently sympathetic to the plight of chasing off new Wal-Mart stores in the Bay Area, so it pulled its application for building a new Wal-Mart Supercenter as a result.

The new Wal-Mart location, which was to be built in the North Concord area, now has no firm to build it. North Concord residents and the City Council there had cited the Wal-Mart proposal as inadequate in addressing issues such as traffic, public safety, urban decay, water control, energy and parking. In other words, the usual suspects when a municipality wants to fend off a proposed Wal-Mart location.

Of course, Wal-Mart has a history of trying again and again to get locations built in areas that have significant shopper traffic and good demographics, and surely the retailer won't put its tail between its legs and leave town like Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott indicated would happen in New York City recently. With only three Wal-Mart Supercenters approved in the Bay Area in the last four years, Wal-Mart has been beaten up pretty well in that area, although it continues the fight.


Wal-Mart dealt another blow to Bay Area expansion; Development company withdraws application to build Wal-Mart big box store in North Concord

September 12, 2007

CONCORD – Wal-Mart suffered a major setback in its Bay Area expansion plans here Tuesday night when the Winton-Jones Development Company officially withdrew its application to build a Wal-Mart big box discount store in North Concord.

Concord residents applauded the decision to end the long-running Wal- Mart controversy, signaled by a 3-2 Concord City Council vote in March to reject the project's Environmental Impact Report for significant inadequacies in the areas of traffic, public safety, urban decay, water control, energy and parking. Certification of the vote was delayed until Tuesday for procedural reasons.

"While No More on 4 is pleased with the outcome, the fight is still ongoing. Wal-Mart can come back tomorrow and propose another ill- conceived store. I doubt it will be the last we hear of Wal-Mart trying to build a store in North Concord," said Gregg Davidson, chairman of No More on 4, a community group opposing the Wal-Mart project.

No More on 4, which repeatedly noted the various ways in which the current EIR failed to mitigate the impacts of a Wal-Mart big box discount store, believed it clearly made the case that a Wal-Mart would be bad for North Concord.

"The quality of life impacts we feel in North Concord need to be considered first, and these kinds of big box discount stores do not have a track record of serving communities well. We are pleased that the Jones Family had the courage to end this controversy by withdrawing the current Wal-Mart project from consideration," Davidson added.

It's been a rough year for Wal-Mart – only three Wal-Mart Supercenters have been approved in the Bay Area in the last four years. The City of Hercules is using eminent domain to stop Wal-Mart from building there, Oakland, Alameda County, Livermore and Martinez have big box ordinances and Antioch rejected a Wal-Mart expansion earlier this year.


Suisun - Wal-Mart Supercenter Update -September 11, 2007

Click here for CBS-13 news report and video

California Healthy Communities Network, Suisun Citizens League and Suisun Alliance held a press conference yesterday, 9/11, outside Solano County Board of Supervisors Chambers discussing problems with the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter site located at Walters Road and Highway 12 in Suisun.

The proposed big box site is located in a restricted Safety Zone (Encroachment Zone) adjacent to Travis AFB and is not in compliance with the County's Travis Land Use Plan established by the Solano County Airport Land Use Commission. Suisun residents concerned about safety and the impact such a large commercial development may have on sensitive urban encroachment issues that have forced or contributed to the federal governments decision to close urban military bases across the nation.

Travis AFB is the largest employer in Solano County with more than 14,000 employers and contributes more than $1.2 billion a year to the County's economy. Thousands of Solano County residents also depend on Travis AFB for health services at the Travis AFB's health care facility.


URGENT NEWS ADVISORY Monday, September 10, 2007 Contact: Cres Vellucci, media coordinator, Cal/Healthy Communities, 916/996-9170

ATTN: Bay Area Daybook/Assignment Desk

Wal-Mart facing big tests in East Bay cities Tuesday re: future of planned Superstores; Fate of air base, disputed project in doubt

CONCORD/SUISUN – Wal-Mart's plans to build two more Supercenters in the East Bay will face multiple tests here Tuesday – one in Fairfield, where a proposed Suisun Wal-Mart threatens an air base, and the other in Concord, where the death of one city counselor has thrown a decision to deny Wal-Mart construction into political limbo.

In Fairfield, the Solano County Supervisors will hear comments from citizen groups (news briefing at 9:30 a.m. at County Government Building, 675 Texas St.) who say a proposed Suisun Wal-Mart's proximity to Travis Air Force Base, the county's biggest employer ($ 1 billion a year / 14,000 jobs), could result in the closing of the base.

According to letters from the chair of the Airport Land Use Commission, and a Travis Base Commander, the Wal-Mart store violates the Travis Airport Land Use Plan, and would "encroach" on the base because it would place too many people in the runway path in an area where aircraft parts have fallen. This violation could lead to the base closure.

In Concord, the City Council members Laura Hoffmeister, Helen Allen and Michael Chavez voted March 6 to kill a Wal-Mart project. In line with common City practices, the Council would have simply certified the 3-2 vote that the EIR holds significant inadequacies in the areas of traffic, water control plans, energy, parking, public safety and urban decay.

However, finalization of the vote was delayed and councilperson Chavez died unexpectedly, throwing into doubt the status of the vote and project. Opponents say the project has been defeated and will comment to media outside chambers (6 p.m. at City Complex Library/City Council Chambers, 1950 Parkside Drive)

It's been a rough year for Wal-Mart – a Hercules parcel was seized by the city, another store in American Canyon is padlocked by order of the court, and Oakland, Livermore and Martinez have bans on big boxes like Wal-Mart SuperCenters. Antioch rejected a Wal-Mart expansion earlier this year.  Click here for more...


THIRD ANNUAL SITE FIGHTERS CONFERENCE

Friday and Saturday September 7th and 8th
San Jose, California, at the Wyndham Hotel

The Site Fighters Conference has been a tremendously successful event in the past, with site fighters around the country coming together to share information, successful strategies and tactics, and best practices in their campaigns to fight unwanted corporate developments.

Jeff Milchen, Co-founder of the American Independent Business Alliance, will be one of our Conference Workshop Presenters.

Programs and workshops to include:

  • Holding the Line on Big Box expansion in market areas
  • Land Use Strategies
  • Subsidy Strategies for Social Justice
  • Developing Alternative Growth Strategies
  • What a National Comprehensive Wal-Mart Campaign Would Look Like
  • Distribution Center Campaigns
  • Maximizing Leverage for local worker demands

Don’t Delay Go to www.sitefighters.org for more information and registration details or call Brennan Griffin at 504-943-0044 ext. 191

Conference Sponsors:

  • Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)
  • Wal-Mart Alliance for Reform Now (WARN)
  • California Healthy Communities Network (Cal HCN)

The evil Lord Waldemart killed Harry's parents business. Now Harry must stop him in his attempt to torture House Elves and suck the magic from local communities! Click here to watch the movie or go to www.walmartwatch.com/ to find out how you can help! Photographed and edited by Ian Brownell. Costumes by Tim Baum. Check us out at www.walmartwatch.com/myspace


Local business Mom-and-pops strategize vs. big boxes - By Bryce Benson

"Local businesses—unite!" - August 6, 2007

That could have been the battle cry of the Chico Independent Business Forum held at the City Council chambers Friday (July 27).

About 25 local business owners were there—instead of at the Friday night concert going on across Main Street—to listen to Jeff Milchen, co-founder of the American Independent Business Alliance, outline a strategy for helping local businesses thrive against "big box" stores such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Best Buy. The California Healthy Communities Network and Lyon Books sponsored the gathering. View Full Story


Big-box battle - By J.M. BROWN/Times-Herald staff writer
July 24, 2007

If independent business owners in Vallejo want to halt the encroachment of "big-box stores," they must band together to prove why consumers lose when they support discount retailers, a national expert said Monday. View Full Story



July 3, 2007

Area Wal-Mart Will Increase Crime, Police Chief Says Internal memo from police chief suggests Wal-Mart Supercenter will lead to more crime in Suisun; Rally against store set for Saturday click here for story



June 28, 2007

Store's food spoiled, project says
Farmer Joe's says report a union effort to harm them

click here for story



June 15, 2007

Wal-Mart Could Lead to Travis AFB Closure, Claims Community Group  - click here for story



June 12, 2007

Residents Say Wal-Mart Store May Lead to Traffic Deaths
click here for story


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, June 11, 2007 Contact: Cres Vellucci, communications director Cal/HCN, 916/996-9170

Residents call Wal-Mart a ‘pirate,' claim proposed Supercenter may lead to more traffic, deaths along ‘blood alley' section of Highway 12... click here to see the rest of the news release


June 9, 2007 - KGO Channel 7 News - Solano County Residents Rally Against Proposed Wal-Mart - Story and Video... click here


SAN JOSE, Ca. – California Healthy Communities Network (CHCN), in conjunction with a host of influential labor and social justice organizations, launched the "Mercados Campaign" here April 20 in an effort to preserve the human and civil rights of unrepresented Latino workers in small and medium sized grocery stores in California. click here to see rest of news release


Shop 'til you drop - Despite long battle, shoppers swarm hard-won Wal-Mart Supercenter - By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN/Times-Herald staff writer Vallejo Times Herald 
09/20/2007

AMERICAN CANYON - There was joy in the Napa Junction parking lot Wednesday as the new, hard-won Wal-Mart Supercenter opened for business. "We're thrilled. It's been quite a battle," said Pam Wilkinson, American Canyon Chamber of Commerce president.

Several hundred Wal-Mart employees, officials, shoppers and others braved the early morning chill for speeches, thanks and congratulations, before being allowed in for a peek.

The 173,000-square-foot stone and stucco-faced structure, includes a full grocery department, including bakery, produce and meat sections, as well as wine and liquor, home and apparel products, jewelry, shoes, electronics and general merchandise. The 24-hour store also contains nail and hair salons, a vision center, a McDonald's restaurant and a bank, as well as a delicatessen with a sushi bar and a lawn and garden center.

"To be opening the 30th Supercenter in California and the first in the region is exciting," marketing

manager Mike Hedges said. Supercenter No. 31 also opened Wednesday, in Lancaster, added regional manager Henry Jordan. Wal-Mart serves about 6.5 million California customers weekly, he said.

Mayor Leon Garcia called it "an exciting day that was a long time coming."

More than two years of political and legal wrangling with Wal-Mart opponents delayed the store's completion, but a final ruling in May cleared the way for Wednesday's grand opening.

The new store replaces Vallejo's Wal-Mart, which closed Tuesday.

Wal-Mart's Supercenter is expected to generate about $600,000 in annual sales tax revenue for American Canyon, said city finance director Barry Whitley.

The new building was designed to reflect the region's railroad history and its proximity to the Napa Valley, Jordan said. Its numerous skylights and automatically dimming overhead lights help reduce energy

consumption and are a particular source of pride, said store manager Mike Sellick, a former Vallejo Wal-Mart manager. He and other Wal-Mart officials noted the floors are made from low-maintenance concrete which requires no special chemicals to clean.

Many of Wednesday's Wal-Mart shoppers said they were just glad it's finally open.

"I love to shop at Wal-Mart," said Joann Alcantara of Vallejo. "It would have been nice to have it in Vallejo, but American Canyon is still close enough."

AmCan Wal-Mart 7011 N. Main St.

• Sustainable design elements

• 80,000-square-foot grocery department

• Expanded electronics department

• Expanded lawn and garden center

• 24-hour shopping

• 27 full-service, check-out lanes, eight of them express lanes

• Vision center

• Pharmacy

• One-hour photo lab

• Wireless phone center

• "Family Fun Center"

Eager to peruse the new store's camera equipment, American Canyon residents and bus drivers Harold and Kristina Jones said they're hoping the new giant retail outlet will help thin out the congestion at the nearby Safeway supermarket.

"I get groceries at the Safeway, and they got 20 people in line, no matter what time you go," he said. "And the prices are lower here."

Wal-Mart officials still hope to build a Supercenter in Vallejo's long-vacant White Slough area on Sonoma Boulevard where the Kmart Store once stood, but they face fierce opposition. Many of those opposed to the plan say the "ecologically sensitive" wetlands site isn't suitable for a so-called big-box store.

"I'm hugely disappointed that Wal-Mart was able to shove this down the people of American Canyon's throat," said Joe Feller of Wal-Mart opposition group, Vallejoans for Responsible Growth. "Now they're going to be stuck with a huge bill for widening Highway 29 to accommodate Wal-Mart traffic. It's insane, and I'm glad I don't live in American Canyon because of it."

Feller vows to continue fighting against a Vallejo Supercenter though company officials say they're equally determined to see it developed.

The Vallejo project is "still at the beginning stages," with the city having recently found consultants to produce an environmental review, spokesman Kevin Loscotoff said. The EIR could take up to 16 months to complete, he said. But Wal-Mart is looking no where else in Vallejo, Loscotoff added.

"We're focused squarely on the White Slough project," he said.

E-mail Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at RachelZ@thnewsnet.com or call 553-6824.


Local business Mom-and-pops strategize vs. big boxes - By Bryce Benson

"Local businesses—unite!" - August 6, 2007

That could have been the battle cry of the Chico Independent Business Forum held at the City Council chambers Friday (July 27).

About 25 local business owners were there—instead of at the Friday night concert going on across Main Street—to listen to Jeff Milchen, co-founder of the American Independent Business Alliance, outline a strategy for helping local businesses thrive against "big box" stores such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Best Buy. The California Healthy Communities Network and Lyon Books sponsored the gathering. View Full Story


Big-box battle - By J.M. BROWN/Times-Herald staff writer
July 24, 2007
If independent business owners in Vallejo want to halt the encroachment of "big-box stores," they must band together to prove why consumers lose when they support discount retailers, a national expert said Monday.
View Full Story


June 28, 2007

Store's food spoiled, project says Farmer Joe's says
report a union effort to harm them

 OAKLAND — A Martinez-based public health group asked the Alameda County Health Agency to investigate Farmer Joe's Marketplace in Oakland Wednesday, after releasing the findings of a 36-day project that documented sales of dated and spoiled food. click here for full story


June 15, 2007

Wal-Mart Could Lead to Travis AFB Closure, Claims Community Group

[Top]

A proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter here near a deadly part of Highway 12 known as "Blood Alley" may also have a major impact - and could lead to the eventual closure of - Travis Air Force Base, according to information obtained by a community group opposed to the Wal-Mart project.

A NEWS CONFERENCE is scheduled for THURSDAY at 11 a.m. at the Travis AFB MAIN GATE (Visitor's Center), by the Suisun Alliance and Suisun Citizens League - click here for full story



June 12, 2007
Residents Say Wal-Mart Store May Lead to Traffic Deaths  [Top]

Residents call Wal-Mart a 'pirate,' claim proposed Supercenter may lead to more traffic, deaths along 'blood alley' section of Highway 12

Residents here rallied against a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter Saturday, charging the retail giant is more of a "pirate" than a savior - and predicted the Wal-Mart store could lead to more deaths on an already deadly stretch of Highway 12, known as "Solano County's version of blood alley."  Click here for full story...


Abusos en mercados de latinos [Top]

Denuncian que los trabajadores ganan menos del salario mínimo
Araceli Martínez Ortega Corresponsal de La Opinión

21 de abril de 2007

SAN JOSÉ.— Varias organizaciones pro inmigrantes y sindicales, junto con el Consulado General de México en San José, se unieron ayer para lanzar una campaña que frene los abusos laborales contra los trabajadores de los mercados de California que venden productos latinos y asiáticos y se encuentran en áreas habitadas por inmigrantes.

Entre los abusos más frecuentes hacia los trabajadores, en su mayoría inmigrantes latinos y asiáticos, destacan el maltrato psicológico y verbal, la falta de pago por horas extras, la ausencia de descansos entre las horas de trabajo y hasta salarios por abajo del mínimo.

Eso sin contar la ausencia de seguro médico y el acoso sexual.

"Este es un problema más común de lo que pensamos", dijo Gerardo Domínguez, director de organización del Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Industria de la Comida, Local 5.

Se estima que en el estado hay unos 100 mil trabajadores que laboran para las tiendas de abarrotes conocidas entre los hispanos como mercados.

Domínguez puso el ejemplo de un trabajador que laboró en un mercado de Richmond durante cinco meses sin paga alguna. "Cuando hablamos con el patrón, se justificó diciendo que al trabajador le gustaba laborar de gratis y estaba satisfecho sólo con que le dieran la comida", comentó.

La mayoría de los propietarios de los mercados hispanos son mexicanos, pero también hay centroamericanos, del Medio Oriente y asiáticos.

"La barrera más fuerte para denunciar es el miedo por la falta de educación de los trabajadores", aseguró Domínguez, quien aclaró que no todos los mercados latinos tratan mal a sus empleados. "Hay patrones muy buenos, pero otros muy malos", precisó.

Sin embargo, instó a los trabajadores que son víctimas de abuso a reportarlos al teléfono 1 (866) 917-5605, una línea gratis para denunciar los abusos laborales.

También pueden llamar al Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Industria de la Comida, al (925) 250-5700.

Norma Landeros, una mexicana que trabaja como cocinera para el mercado La Loma 2, de la ciudad de San Pablo, en la bahía de San Francisco, dice que el dueño es muy bueno con ella, no así sus compañeros de trabajo.

"Constantemente me están presionando y diciendo cosas como, Apúrese vieja", dice Norma, de 52 años de edad, y quien a diario ella sola elabora entre 20 y 30 docenas de tortillas y 100 tamales.

Víctor Blanco, quien desde hace dos años labora para la tienda Farmers Joe, en Oakland, uno de los supermercados que figura en la lista de los que más maltratan a sus trabajadores, dice que constantemente son molestados por los gerentes.

"Si nos paramos un minuto, nos empiezan a decir, ya estás de holgazán. Eres un mexicano flojo. Mejor regrésate a México a comer frijoles".

Afirma que debido al trato que reciben viven con la presión constante de ser despedidos.

"Además, hemos notado que cuando contratan a trabajadores americanos o asiáticos, les pagan mejor que a nosotros los mexicanos", expuso.

Blanco sostiene que en el caso del supermercado para el que trabaja, los hacen esperar hasta una hora y media para darles el cheque de su salario o se los entregan minutos antes de que el banco cierre; mientras que los empleados que son amigos y familiares de los gerentes reciben sus cheques desde temprana hora.

"Cuando les reclamamos, nos dicen que guardemos dinero del salario anterior para pagar nuestras facturas", anota.

Agrega que cuando empezaron a tomar descanso dentro de su horario de trabajo, les mandaron advertencias laborales. "Nunca nos habían permitido tomar descansos y, cuando comenzamos, no les gustó".

Bruno Figueroa, cónsul de México en San José, aseveró:

"Esperamos que con el lanzamiento de esta campaña, los trabajadores denuncien a sus empleadores a las autoridades estatales, los sindicatos y los consulados y que se informen de sus derechos".

Añadió que el segundo objetivo de la campaña informativa es que los dueños de los mercados hispanos firmen un código de conducta en el que se comprometen a dar beneficios a los trabajadores y con ello se espera que disminuyan los abusos laborales.

"Dada la importancia de los mercados latinos, es deseable que los trabajadores tengan un mejor ambiente laboral y los beneficios consagrados por las leyes, no importa si son indocumentados", anotó.

La Opinión contactó a la Asociación Mexicoamericana de Supermercados que representa a los mercados latinos, pero un empleado no identificado informó que ayer no había nadie que pudiera dar comentarios sobre las acusaciones.

También La Opinión llamó al supermercado Joe Farmers, de Oakland, uno de los mercados mencionados como los que más abusan de los trabajadores, pero mientras se explicaba el motivo de la llamada, el empleado que contestó, colgó el teléfono.

La Opinión llamó en una segunda ocasión y de nuevo colgaron el teléfono.

En la campaña contra los abusos a los trabajadores de los mercados latinos participan la Liga de Ciudadanos Latinoamericanos Unidos (LULAC), la Asociación de Organizaciones Comunitarias por una Reforma Ahora (ACORN), la Red de Comunidades Saludables de California, el Instituto Laboral de la Raza de San Francisco, el Proyecto de Ciudadanía de Salinas, y el Local 5 del Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Industria de la Comida así como el grupo legislativo hispano, a través de su presidente, el asambleísta Joe Coto.


"Wal-Mart hits road block as council orders more studies"  [Top]

Big Win for SWAT!

At the April 16th City Council meeting, the Council recognized the Merced-Mariposa County Asthma Coalition (MMCAC) for its good work and expressed concern about the abnormally high local asthma rate. An estimated 13,000 children in Merced County suffer from asthma, making our children twice as likely to be diagnosed with asthma than the national average.

Supporters of SWAT and Moms CAN commended the Council's recognition of MMCAC, and reminded City Council that they, as elected officials, have the real power to improve air quality and reduce asthma. By making smart land use decisions they can keep high-polluting developments like the proposed Wal-Mart Distribution Center out of Merced and away from homes and schools.

In a separate action by the Council, all members agreed to fund a health assessment study as part of the the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Distribution Center, which will generate 900 diesel truck trips per day. With the additional time required to complete this study, the EIR is now expected out this Fall.

The inclusion of a health assessment study is a huge victory for Merced residents!

Read the article in the Merced Sun-Star.

Come Celebrate!

Come celebrate and learn what is next in the fight against the Wal-Mart Distribution Center at our community picnic this weekend.

Spirits will be high at the Stop Wal-Mart Action Team (SWAT) and the Golden Valley Neighborhood Association Earth Day picnic in the Sandcastle subdivision (directly next to the proposed Distribution Center site).

We'll have free food on the grill and a bounce house and Wal-Mart truck pinatas for the kids! Please invite your neighbors and friends.

When: Sunday, April 22nd (2-5pm) Where: Sandcastle Community Park

(off of Blix Ave. between Childs and Gerard, east of Coffee)

Hope to see you there!


Unions call attention to worker abuses at mercados [Top]

By Jesse Mangaliman Mercury News San Jose Mercury News Article 

Scores of California workers employed in small neighborhood stores in Latino and Asian communities are enduring abuse in the workplace - unpaid wages, long hours without breaks, verbal and sexual abuse - union and civil rights officials said Tuesday. A year after receiving reports of these abuses in so-called "mercados," or neighborhood markets, a coalition of labor unions and civil rights organizations launched Friday a statewide campaign to educate workers about their rights, and employers about their legal obligations.

"We do support business," said Phil G. Tucker, project director for California Healthy Communities Networks, an umbrella group of social service agencies, churches and civil rights groups. "But we do not support sweatshop operations."

Many mercado workers are immigrants, officials said, but whether their immigration status in the United States is legal or not, they have rights in the workplace.

Tucker's group joined with Local 5 of the United Food Workers Union, the Mexican Consulate in San Jose, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, the Instituto Laboral de la Raza and Proyecto de Ciudadania de Salinas. Assemblyman Joe Coto, D-San Jose, said he supports the campaign.

Called "Justice for Mercado Workers," the campaign will work in tandem with legal efforts now under way to obtain relief for some of the abused workers, said Gerardo Dominguez, an organizer with UFCW Local 5. In the past year, he said, the union and other labor rights groups have obtained legal settlements worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in back wages for mercado workers in Oakland, Richmond and Concord.

Legal remedies for other cases - some in the Bay Area - are now being sought, he said.

The extent of the abuses are statewide, officials said. There are thousands of mercados in California, employing thousands of workers, many of them Latinos.

In San Jose alone, officials estimated 5,000 workers in these mercados. In Contra Costa, they estimated 1,000 workers.

Reyna Alvarado, 28, of Concord, said she worked for five months as a cashier at a mercado in Concord at $6 an hour, under California's minimum wage of $7.50.

"I worked 10 hour days and we never got breaks," she said, carrying her five month-old son, Maximilliano.

Alvarado has been on maternity leave for about a month, but she said she is worried about returning to work after learning that one of her colleagues was recently fired after asking to take maternity leave.

"These are serious violations that are occurring in these mercados," said Angel G. Luevano, state director of California LULAC. "Ya basta," he continued in Spanish, or "Enough."

Sarah M. Shaker, executive director of the Instituto Laboral de La Raza, a San Francisco labor rights group, said her group worked on 600 cases last year involving unpaid wages and benefits for immigrant workers.

"The problems we're learning about mercados," she said, "are problems we see every day."

 

 
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