Union Wet Dream Passes California Senate

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If you have ever noticed the piece of pipe capped off near “waterless” toilets, you can thank the pipe fitters union that opposed the environmentally friendly toilets until a provision was added to the law that requires an expensive but useless piece of pipe be constructed to every toilet, whether or not that toilet would ever need water.  In another in a continuing line of union greed, Senate Bill 469 (Vargas) passed on the Senate floor Tuesday with a vote of 21-14.  The bill, supported heavily by grocery unions, which creates unequal standards for reviewing local land use decisions, now heads to the Assembly.

SB 469 requires local agencies to obtain an exhaustive 17-point economic impact analysis, paid for by the applicant, prior to making a decision on any potential “superstore.” A superstore is narrowly defined as a store more than 90,000 square feet that sells a variety of consumer goods and devotes 10 percent of its floor space to non-taxable food items.   This requirement is IN ADDITION TO the already stringent studies required by the California Environmental Quality Act.  This measure is the latest chapter in a “grocery war” primarily against Wal-Mart and is backed by labor unions employed in large grocery chains. Similar measures were previously vetoed by Governor  Schwarzenegger and Gov.vernor Davis.

Because of the narrow definition of superstore as used in the bill, wildly different costs and levels of review and approval will be born by “superstores” as compared to other direct competitors.  While the measure purports to be a policy-focused measure to ensure that local officials are equipped with a comprehensive analysis of all possible regional and local impacts, none of these criteria would apply to discount membership stores, department stores, grocery chains, shopping malls and other large projects with similar impacts.

The bill now head to the Assembly floor for review.  If passed, the bill will almost certainly be the subject of a highly contested lawsuit.


About Geoff Willis