Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has shelved plans to open a store in the Los Angeles area community of Northridge in the face of a costly and lengthy environmental impact study, a city councilman said Tuesday.
The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer had already secured the proper zoning requirements for its proposed site in Northridge, located in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles. It also has two other stores nearby.
Wal-Mart's spokesman in Southern California did not respond to telephone calls by Reuters seeking comment, but Los Angeles City Councilman Greig Smith said in a statement the environmental impact study led to Wal-Mart's decision to quit the site.
"Initially, they agreed to conduct the full EIR and then they simply decided that because there were no guarantees at the end of the lengthy and costly process, to pull the plug," Smith said.
Because Wal-Mart already operates two stores nearby, the plan to add a third had faced opposition over concerns about increased traffic in the area.
The world's largest retailer is in the midst of a public image counter-offensive against critics who claim the company pays poverty-level wages, destroys smaller businesses and undermines unions.
Labor, environmental groups and others also charge that the company offers poor health-care benefits, mistreats employees and encroaches on green space with its big-box stores. The company says it creates jobs and provides low prices for consumers.
Wal-Mart plans to open up to 600 stores this year in the U.S., including up to 280 super-centers, massive stores that also sell groceries.
The company was listed as one of the factors in a lengthy grocery strike in southern California that ended in 2004. Grocery chains had argued they needed to cut costs, including health care benefits, to better compete with Wal-Mart, which relies on nonunion workers.