Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Walmart Expansion in Bellingham?

Some say, "let the market decide."

If the market were like me, Walmart would not be a lucrative business. I've never been to a Walmart, basically because I don't drive.

Walmart is not easy to get to, for me. No, I am not even boycotting that corporation. Maybe I should check out a Walmart, someday, just to see what it's about. On the other hand, who wants to bike through all that traffic!

If people were less addicted to their cars, the market would behave differently. Walmarts cater to parking and freeway exits. If those things were less crucial, in a business plan, even mighty Walmart would be different.

Bellingham City Council has passed a temporary moratorium on large retail development in the city. Sort of a cooling off period as Walmart plans to expand it's local store into "super store" status.

Many support the moratorium, but others say it was a bad move. Some fear the corporation could just relocate in Ferndale. Others are dubious about the council's foray into what they feel should be a market driven choice.

I don't have a strong opinion either "pro" or "anti" moratorium.

Some feel that as long as the expansion is in an area that has already been "trashed" by sprawling retail, don't worry. Bellingham's Meridian area is already "strip mall city." At least it isn't devouring more prime farmland.

Also the city and Walmart can, and have worked out some deals that could improve circulation in the area, if the store were built. Like extending Deamer St. (I think).

One problem that "Meridian Strip" faces is a lot of "dead end" suburban streets that just lead to the hopeless and traffic clogged arteries. Attempts to retrofit the area into something closer to a gridiron street pattern, with more streets going through, could help a little, at least.

Still, if less people were addicted to their cars, things would be different. If the marketplace was driven by pedestrians and bicyclists, the city council would not have to go out on the "politically unsafe limb" of moratorium land.

Market economists might say that the people vote for Walmart with their feet. Problem, they are not voting with their feet, they are voting with their cars.

Folks, you just got to cut back on your car use if you want a better world.

As for Walmart's lack of health insurance for employees?

A very common problem in all of the retail / service sector; even the beloved "mom and pop's."

We need something like "single payer" health insurance basically handled by the state.

Big changes need to come in the way people live and do business on many levels.

Comment on Walmart Superstore, Richland, WA.

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