Local News

Sep 22, 2010 9:22 PM by Ariel Wesler

Planning Commision set to decide on Walmart expansion

Lompoc leaders are expected to make a decision tonight about whether to let Walmart expand. The controversial project would add another 41-thousand square feet to the existing building. It would also turn it into a Walmart Supercenter, offering meat and produce.

If approved by the planning commision, the expansion would bring about 85 full and part-time jobs to Lompoc. Pay would start around $12 an hour, which Walmart says is the average hourly wage in California. The store already employs about 200 people and has been part of the community since 1993. The company says the expansion would also give the Lompoc store a facelift.

Supporters say with a 15 percent unemployment rate, jobs are critical and the city needs all the help it can get. Still, opponents say the jobs aren't sufficient and will end up driving out smaller stores.

"It would be a positive thing for the community and for myself as a mother of four, I could shop in one shopping center at once and get everything all done and over with," said Kjersten Stamper of Lompoc.

"I think a lot of jobs will be lost because of businesses going out. I don't think it's a good thing. This is big enough," said Teresa Jansen, a longtime Lompoc resident.

The city says the urban study shows no major impact to other local businesses. The one exception is the Vons on West Ocean Avenue, which could possibly shut down if the expansion is approved.

Walmart says in the last two years, it has generated 800 thousand dollars in sales tax revenue for the city. If the expansion gets the green light, construction is likely to begin next year and would take 10 to 12 months to complete. The company says the construction alone could provide an additional 50-70 jobs.

Tonight's planning commision meeting is scheduled for 6:30 at Lompoc city hall. Once a decision is made, there will 15 days to appeal it.

Watch KSBY News at 10 and 11 for the results.

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