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Big Crowd Shows Up for Wal-Mart Presentation

At a meeting Thursday called by two Altadena Town Council members, Walmart reps gave a presentation on the new store planned for Lincoln and Figueroa. Hundreds attended the meeting.

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 .

Related:

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.

Daron Anderson July 16, 2012 at 05:08 AM
I think along the lines of those that have, are opposed, where those that do not have, may be more inclined to shop there. Altadena is divided financially and racially whether we like it or not. As I sat in the meeting at WFS, there were comments on both sides. I have friends on both sides of Altadena. I wish I could have convinced a former co-worker to come into the ACONA meeting at the library. She said to me "Man, Daron. I'm tired of all this s**t. These people don't know that we're trying to get by up here, and we need more options up in our neighborhood. All we got is Super King, Baja that smells, and ghetto-a** Ralphs that ain't been improved in years. But oh no, Walmart wants to come and all these people want to come in and try to put a stop to something that we can afford. You see me? I'm on the bus, I ain't got time for these high-a** prices. We need something in that ghetto-a** building that's been a dump for years." -Sheila, a former co-worker of mine. There is a class separation. There are those that shop farmer's markets and join $300 food co-ops, and time banks, and there are those who do not. One side is not above the other. I'm not saying that everyone that opposes Walmart is rich either. There are both sides.
terry Morris July 16, 2012 at 05:28 AM
Did you go to the Tuesday meeting? You might have seen a very different walmart opposition than the Porsche driver you describe. I too have friends on both sides of Altadena, and I actually agree with your description of Altadena. But interestingly enough I have not been able to get one single one of the rich, north/east siders, even the lefties, to lift a finger against Walmart. I guess I am having trouble with your description of the kind of people who are opposed to walmart coming to Altadena. I haven't seen one Porsche in any parking lot of any meeting I have been to, not one designer bag, or expensive watch, not even many east siders, far as I can tell. Most of them will just keep going to Whole Foods and never drive on Lincoln anyway. But I am not one who thinks that there is anything positive in abandoned buildings. They are a financial and psychic drain on the community that surrounds them. I am all for doing something about them. I just want better for this community than the worst company in this country.
terry Morris July 16, 2012 at 05:46 AM
and another thought, both your story about Bel Air, and remarks about the ability to educate people, leave a bad taste in my mouth, too. But I don't think those are indications of anything to do with money, since my guess is that most of the folks at the WFS meeting were far from rich. Many, many, people are ignorant and lacking empathy or understanding about class and race issues. But be careful of stereotypes of any kind. There are many people of higher income levels who would never even contemplate doing such things, and work tirelessly for issues of social justice. Both stories sadden me, as such things often do. But please don't paint everyone who opposes wm with that brush, or even assume to know where anyone lives or how much money they make...
Daron Anderson July 16, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Terry, I'm with you on that. Psychic drain, that's a good way of putting it, cause mentally we think something every time we see it. This whole Walmart debacle is actually becoming a really good lesson, almost more valuable than any lesson in business class. Low prices are great, but when they are at the cost of employees, that's what people have a problem with.
terry Morris July 16, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Hopefully this community will remain engaged and active, and we can nurture a Phoenix to rise from the ashes. It is a great lesson about the consequences of complacency.
TeeGirl July 16, 2012 at 06:31 PM
I was at the meeting and I don't consider myself to be rich or poor. I'm a middle-class, working woman (wife and mother), home-owner (near the Altadena Library) who doesn't want to see her community decimated by the likes of Wal-Mart. Crime increased, property values plummet wherever a Wal-Mart is established. Of course, this knowledge is based on what I've read. I have never read ANYTHING positive about Wal-Mart and rarely to I shop there. The first time I went to the one (in Duarte) was when my now 17-year old was a newborn. I was floored by the low prices but equally as shocked by the narrow aisles and over-stocked shelves. I never went back. I can honestly say I can count the number of times I've been to Wal-Mart on one hand. I cannot stand their philosophy and the cost we, the public, have to pay for their low-prices. And now it seems they want to put two of them in small Altadena? Why on earth would we even need two? Less than 2 miles from one another? Is one for WEST Altadenans and the other for EAST Altadenans. No racism there, I suppose.
SteveB July 16, 2012 at 07:13 PM
I think we need an Altadena Walmart wiki. The Walmart that is coming to Altadena is a grocery story, not a Super Center. It is 28,000 sq. ft., not over 100,000 sq. ft. Re property values, links have been posted in other threads showing a property value study showing that properties surrounding a Walmart have actually increased by 1-2%. To repeat, this is a grocery store coming to town. Think of it as being like a Ralphs for the West side, only much nicer than the one on Lake.
TeeGirl July 16, 2012 at 07:19 PM
I know it is going to be smaller but their philosphy will remain the same. Low prices and inferior merchandise. Plus the idea of Altadena being home to two Wal-Marts leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.
SteveB July 16, 2012 at 07:31 PM
60% groceries, 40% household products (paper towels, etc.). For most of the inferior merchandise you desire, you will still have to go to Duarte (or perhaps site-to-store it). Two Walmart groceries are hardly a done deal. The Lincoln location, is, though.
Lori A. Webster July 16, 2012 at 10:56 PM
40% non-food items, SteveB. The rep I spoke to told me specifically "pharmacy, pet food, stationery, school & office supplies". I realize that's not much, but any little bit that detracts from our local, independent businesses is too much.
terry Morris July 16, 2012 at 11:07 PM
We have no idea what their plans are for the Lake Avenue location. If Ralph's closes it's doors, there will certainly be room for a much bigger store. I guess "nicer" is in the eye of the beholder. And there are conflicting studies about property values. I guess we will all choose the study that supports our personal view of things. For some of us it is not about the size, it is not about groceries vs. non groceries, it is about walmart. For some it is about international conglomerates with stores that do not reflect anything about the community they are in. It is the same store in Chicago, as it is in Simi Valley, as it is in Tampa. It is about what kinds of businesses we want in our community.
terry Morris July 16, 2012 at 11:11 PM
When questioned about why there would only be groceries at last week's meeting, the walmart prep very excitedly told the crowd that the "grocery" store would be a "site to store" location, so that you could order anything that walmart had to offer and it would be delivered for free to the Lincoln store. So it doesn't appear that they are promoting it as groceries only.
Daniel E. Harlow July 17, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Every grocery store is not 100% grocery, walk into Vons, Ralph's etc. and it is a 60/40 or 75/25 mix.
Lisa Hastings July 17, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Who cares what they sell. It's Walmart. We all know they sell junk made by children in China and its perfectly legal. What Altadena needs is a big group cry over the fact that what we have envisioned is something better for our community.
Lisa Hastings July 17, 2012 at 03:32 AM
Ours is a free market economy which allows competition so there is nothing unusual or illegal about businesses undercutting the competition. However, Walmart is a disgrace and Altadena deserves better.
Lisa Hastings July 17, 2012 at 03:35 AM
The Lincoln Avenue location is a done deal. The Lake Avenue location will be required to go through the county planning and approval process which includes consideration of opposition from the community.
Otis July 17, 2012 at 04:03 AM
But doesn't every large retailer in the US "sell junk made by children in China". I haven't read all your posts, and apologize for my ignorance, but I am assuming you want more "mom and pop" type stores, more local retailers, who buy from local resources, to fulfill the "space" that a WalMart would. You won't get a perfect 1-to-1 match, but if that is your agenda, I wish you the best of luck. I doubt I would ever go to WalMart in Altadena even if there was one; there are very few things I would want to purchase there and I have plenty of other "big box" options. That said, I still wouldn't mind getting a job there as a greeter. Something simple, where I can help folks with Rascal scooters ;) Peace out
Gary Edwards July 17, 2012 at 05:03 AM
we have lotsa liquor stores yet we deserve better. have cash checking places but deserve better, lotsa nail salons and churches but deserve better. do we deserve better if we hardly make a peep about all these other stores? If we deserve better, why are we shopping at these types of stores and keeping them in biz?
SteveB July 17, 2012 at 06:44 AM
"I guess we will all choose the study that supports our personal view of things." - Terry Morris wow. we'll never get anywhere if that is your view. Angela and I referenced a study from 2012 that indicates property values increase by 1-2%. Did you read it? Understand it? Was it flawed? or did you just "choose a study that supports our personal view of things".
Dee July 17, 2012 at 03:55 PM
The issue of "these types" of stores Gary mentioned has been discussed. There seems to be the same county ordinance, or whatever, in place allowing them to stay/change ownership as allowing Walmart to open. As Lisa said, "Altadena deserves better". However, we are the ones that can make it better by becoming more active in the community. Take the time to go to community meetings, let the Town Council members know what you would like to see improved and get knowledgeable about the county codes, zoning and CSDs.
terry Morris July 19, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Steve B.- Yes I read the study. There have been many studies posted, all in support of opposite positions. Both side of this issue can hurl studies all day long, and it isn't making anyone budge from their viewpoints.
SteveB July 19, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Ok, Terry, you read it. So what was it about the study that made you question its validity, other than it presenting a result that didn't agree with your current view? Most of the items referenced by the anti-Walmart crowd I questioned because 1) they were referring to super centers, not the grocery stores, 2) they were old, 3) they were generated by folks who had an agenda. On a recent Walmart post on altadenablog, Sequoya posted a link to a collection of studies about Walmart. The curator of that collection is the author of a book entitled "Big-Box Swindle". Hmmm, I wonder if she represents a neutral point of view? Oddly enough, she doesn't have the link to the 2012 study I referenced, produced by independent academics at the University of Chicago and Brigham Young University.
terry Morris July 19, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Steve, I have not entered into the studies debate for exactly the reason I cited. I have not questioned the validity of any study. There others here who are interested in debated the validity of the various studies. Again, I have not been one of them. My only comment on the matter was that everyone can site studies all day long to support their particular position. It will never end, and because there are so many conflicting reports, most will stick by the studies that support their position. The conversation ends up on an endless hamster wheel, and common goals and solutions are left by the wayside.
terry Morris July 19, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Steve, I have not entered into the studies debate for exactly the reason I cited. I have not questioned the validity of any study. There others here who are interested in debating the validity of the various studies. Again, I have not been one of them. My only comment on the matter was that everyone can site studies all day long to support their particular position. It will never end, and because there are so many conflicting reports, most will stick by the studies that support their position. The conversation ends up on an endless hamster wheel, and common goals and solutions are left by the wayside.
SteveB July 19, 2012 at 08:51 PM
"The conversation ends up on an endless hamster wheel, and common goals and solutions are left by the wayside." Fair enough. I do appreciate the positive, proactive turn you have taken. But I still take issue with "I guess we will all choose the study that supports our personal view of things." Ideally we would read the studies and judge them based on their merits, not our point of view. But that is probably expecting a bit much.
terry Morris July 19, 2012 at 09:11 PM
I certainly wish that my observation about how people approach studies and statistics weren't true. One would certainly hope that people would be open, but what I see is something different. What I see is an endless hammering of the issue, with no one budging. It gets inflamed and acrimonious, it sinks to personal attacks. People use their opinions and views like blunt objects, finding something to fight about, no matter what. I am trying to be positive and proactive, and I appreciate your acknowledgement. It has been an uphill slog, as even positive actions get attacked, but slog ahead I will, until my head gets bashed in I guess, and I finally give up. All we can do is try.
Angela Odom July 19, 2012 at 09:41 PM
@Terry, you're on the right track. Let's talk about what we have and let's work to make what we have better. Many don't know what is in this community, particularly since the whole foreclosure mess (which is still happening here). There are so many new people in the community who really don't receive anything in the mail or on their doors that says "Howdy" and "Welcome". I found Altadenablog by doing a Google search. Prior to that, didn't know it existed. A lot is needed in making those unaware, aware. Without that, people will just let gravity pull them down the hill and onto the freeway into La Canada. As for studies, I work in the legal industry and I just can't buy into studies. We'll go to trial and we will have our experts and studies and opposing counsel will have their experts and studies and the whole thing is meant to cancel out the other. You can do peer review and find the various peers could be in the pocket of a large corporation or are benefiting in some way via large donors to universities. Think Aspartame. Call me a cynic but I really can't get into studies. What I can get into is this community, the place where I live. The last Visioning Committee (really would like to know how that came about) stated people want more brands in the area. Walmart signed a lease and yep, it's a brand. How do we change that to put eyeballs on our local businesses? Put on a hard hat and some goggles and keep going.
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Charity Whitson September 25, 2012 at 10:23 PM
I have always said I don't like Walmart. Soon, it will be within 5 minutes walking distance from my house. My dream is that they open, no one shops there, they crash and burn and have no other choice but to close their doors and leave.
douggefresh November 02, 2012 at 12:38 AM
I for one will be happy when Walmart opens and closes down Super King a store that should be closed down may I add, due to SUPER bad and racist management oh and sexist too, also the lack of employee respect, how the company cuts corners and ignoring safty health laws.. the things I've seen and have found well let's just say from the 10 friends I've told all 10 have stopped shopping there..

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