In a unanimous decision yesterday, the California Supreme Court fortified efforts by cities across the state to restrict the development of big-box stores, favor small-scale retailers, and protect the vitality of downtowns. The ruling (Hernandez v. City of Hanford) upholds the authority of cities to adopt planning and zoning ordinances that have a direct impact on economic competition and that treat businesses differently based on the scale of their stores. Continue reading
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About Stacy Mitchell
Stacy Mitchell is a senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, where she directs initiatives on independent business and community banking. She is the author of Big-Box Swindle and also produces a popular monthly newsletter, the Hometown Advantage Bulletin. Connect with her on twitter and catch her recent TEDx Talk: Why We Can’t Shop Our Way to a Better Economy. More
While many parts of the country are overrun with chain stores, San Francisco remains a stronghold for locally owned businesses, according to a new study, which also found that those local stores generate sizable benefits for the city’s economy.
State lawmakers are now considering a bill, the Informed Growth Act, that would give all Maine communities a process for evaluating the costs and benefits of large retail projects.
Many local officials would undoubtedly reconsider big-box projects if they knew that a new mega-store would eliminate more jobs than it creates, or that it would cost the city more in public services than it generates in tax revenue . But most cities do not assess the likely economic impacts of retail development. They assume that these stores expand the local economy and approve them blind to the potential costs. Legislation under consideration in Maine would remedy this by stipulating that cities may approve stores over 75,000 square feet only after an independent economic analysis is conducted. Continue reading
This session on regulating big-box retail was presented at the American Planning Association’s 2007 conference. Presenters were Thomas Jacobson, Stacy Mitchell, and Julie Tappendorf. The CD-ROM includes audio synchronized with PowerPoint, transcripts and slides, note sheets, and reading materials. Continue reading
Q: A major retail development is proposed for our town. The developer is insisting that big-box stores do not harm small business. He references a study called “Has Wal-Mart Buried Mom and Pop?” which was published in an academic journal. Is this study valid? How do we respond? – Resident of New Scotland, New York… Continue reading
There are many reasons why communities seek to stop a big-box proposal — the effect on local economic development and small businesses, traffic congestion, environmental issues, community impacts, low-paying jobs. Whatever your concerns, however, the main way most communities succeed in preventing the development of a big-box store is through the local land use system…. Continue reading
The provision of planning policy that Wal-Mart wants to see scrapped is known as the “needs test.” It says that communities may approve large out-of-town stores only if there is a demonstrable need for new retail and there is no way to satisfy that need with development in or adjacent to the town center. Continue reading
Supersized Supermarkets: A Public Forum – Stacy Mitchell is featured at
this U.K. event that was hosted by Tescopoly, Friends of the Earth, War
on Want, and ActionAid.
Subsidies, tax dodges, and dead malls — An interview with Stacy Mitchell in Multinational Monitor, Feb. 2007 Continue reading