It was standing room only for late arrivals to a Thursday night meeting on the Walmart location planned for the intersection of Lincoln and Figueroa.
With all seats in Jackson Elementary filled, by Altadena Patch's estimate there were more than 200 people in the room to hear a presentation from Walmart's public relations staff.
Much of the presentation centered on information already released to the public. Javier Angulo, the Walmart representative, told the crowd that the 28,000-square-foot store would open in early 2013, touted the figure of $12.79 as the average hourly pay for California Walmart workers and noted that the store manager would have wide latitude on what items to stock. He emphasized that the store would be a Walmart supermarket and not a normal Walmart retail center and added that it would create 60 jobs.
Angulo also touted Walmart's program to buy from local vendors and showed a video about Walmart's commitment to stocking organic produce and other healthy products.
Following the presentation, people lined up to speak or ask questions. By Altadena Patch's count, three people spoke up in favor of Walmart, 13 spoke up against and six either had a mixed view or did not express a clear stance.
Applause was loudest for anti-Walmart sentiment, though pro-Walmart speakers did get some applause as well.
Speakers who lived in Census Tract 4610, where the store will be located, were allowed the first chances to talk. One speaker, Katherine Ware, asked about Walmart's median wage figures before revealing she had recently been a Walmart employee. She said she never made $12.79 an hour.
"I worked for Walmart for four and a half years," Ware said. "My hourly wage as of January was not that high."
Though there was much discussion of Walmart's impact on local businesses and the company's hiring practices, there were also a lot of speakers who raised concerns about the store's impact on local traffic.
Town Council member Brent Musson, one of the organizers of the meeting, told the crowd he will introduce a motion at the next Town Council meeting asking the county to conduct a traffic study of the impact Walmart would have on traffic.
There were also questions about making sure Altadena residents got construction jobs to build the store and jobs once the Walmart is open. Angulo said that federal law would prevent Wal-Mart from mandating a that a certain percentage of workers come from Altadena, but said the company would be opening a local hiring center to help interested residents get jobs.
Anita Martin, another 4610 resident, said she would welcome a Walmart grocery store as she does not like the options in her neighborhood.
"I go all the way across town when I shop for groceries," Martin said. "Walmart, I appreciate what you are doing, creating these jobs."
Meredith Miller, the owner of the , took the opportunity in front of the large crowd gathered for the meeting to promote local businesses when it was her turn to speak.
"One way you can really show your support is not just showing placards and signs," Miller said. "You can also come out support your local businesses."
The meeting did get tense briefly after a man in the front row had been using profanity and shouting at the Walmart rep and one of the pro-Walmart speakers. One of the Town Council members told him if he continued he would have to leave and a deputy from the Sheriff's Department came over and spoke to him.
The meeting concluded very abruptly after 1 hour and 15 minutes when Angulo, the Walmart rep, announced he had to leave to go to another meeting.
Musson, one of the Town Council members who called the meeting, finished by noting that there is nothing the Town Council or County can do to stop the Walmart from opening. He said that he would work hard to make sure that Walmart jobs went to local residents.
Walmart will be giving another presentation at the Town Council meeting on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the .
Editor's note: The original version of this story said that the $12.79 per hour was the median wage of California Wal-Mart workers rather than average.