Four years ago, Rohnert Park–area citizens stopped Walmart's plans for expanding its store into a Supercenter. But Walmart's back at it, with the same proposal, and citizens must say no again.
The expansion plans are a bad idea for Rohnert Park and all of Sonoma County. Walmart workers make far less than a living wage for Sonoma County, and the company is in the midst of a California lawsuit over gender discrimination. Less than half of Walmart workers have employer-provided healthcare insurance and many rely on taxpayer-funded medical services. An expanded Walmart means more traffic, more greenhouse gas emissions and extra burdens on local law enforcement.
There's even more reason to oppose Walmart this time around. The company is already building a neighborhood market in the Mountain Shadows Shopping Center. How many grocery stores does Rohnert Park need? We already have more than most communities our size.
There are those who claim Walmart will bring jobs to the community. They are wrong. Walmart will take jobs from other stores, and the principal effect will be to lower the quality of the jobs. Walmart's practices drive low-end wages even lower. When it comes to promoting fairness, eco-sustainability and democracy, Walmart jobs are triple offenders: they are nonunion, poverty-wage positions that support a corporation with a climate footprint half the size of France and that undermines Main Street jobs all over the world.
Last time around, some residents supported Walmart because they wanted access to Walmart's low prices. Rohnert Park already has its fair share of discount grocers: FoodMaxx, Grocery Outlet and Costco.
Consumer Reports surveyed 10 stores, including Walmart, Sears, Target, Kmart and Sam's Club, and only Costco earned an outstanding grade for the quality and value of its merchandise.
The Rohnert Park planning commission will consider Walmart's expansion application at a public hearing in the council chambers at city hall, Aug. 14 at 6 pm.
Show up and say no to the Supercenter!
Rick Luttmann is a Rohnert Park resident and retired mathematics professor at Sonoma State University.
RickOpen Mic is a weekly feature in the 'Bohemian.' We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write firstname.lastname@example.org.