To the Editor: Walmart violating public trust

Walmart is currently boldly attempting to violate the terms of the original Super Walmart Petition promises made to our city, and our city appears to be caving to the pressure.

As a result I and other interested parties have formed a citizens’ protest group called Ridgecrest Citizens for Accountable Government, a California nonprofit corporation (ridgecrestcitizens4accountable to encourage strength, resolve, and honesty by the city council and planning commission in their current painful dealings with Walmart.

This website contains important background information on this travesty being kept secret from the citizens.

We are urging transparency with citizens by the city as they are being squeezed hard by Walmart’s legal juggernaut. The problem is that Walmart wants the city to drop substantial (millions) in contractual requirements for important infrastructure improvement costs it promised to share in return for approvals needed to build the super store.

These improvements were called for by the city as part of implementing the economic development vision of the General Plan for this area. By signing the petition, voters allowed Walmart to bypass expensive California Environmental Quality Act and other approvals otherwise mandated to build the super store. The store has now been operational for more than a year but the a significant part of the promised infrastructure remains uncompleted.

Now Walmart is seeking approvals for outlying retail lots it has for sale next to the new store, and it is attempting to use the Tentative Parcel Map Amendment process to eliminate this requirement. The city would of course like to see the lots developed, for the additional excise tax revenue this would bring.

However it now is claiming that it never had and doesn’t now have the funds to pay for its portion of the improvements. Walmart is demanding that the requirements be eliminated as a condition for going forward with the new retail lots and threatening to sue the city if doesn’t comply. The city and Walmart, led by Walmart’s lawyers and meeting in secret and with Walmart promising the city financial indemnification for any resultant law suits, are now baldly contriving to violate both the petition process and CEQA by going forward with these illegal Tentative Parcel Map Amendments.

RGCAG contends that the city and Walmart should and can choose a legal path forward that allows both parties to retain their trustworthiness, accomplish their goals and most importantly avoid secretly cheating the citizens out of the improvements both promised.

Jim Fallgatter

Story First Published: 2017-11-22