Jun 18, 2013 6:21 PM by April Hansen, KSBY News

SM City Council considers moratorium on discount stores

The long debate over discount stores in downtown Santa Maria continues.

The City Council will vote Tuesday on whether to allow retailer Fallas Discount Store to move into the old Mervyn's building.

The council will also discuss how many other bargain stores can open in the future.
They can approve or deny Fallas' request to open shop in downtown.

Last week the city's Planning Commission gave Fallas the go ahead, but because of the size of the space, the council also must approve it.

They'll also discuss the possibility of imposing a moratorium on all discount stores in downtown Santa Maria.
The ordinance defines these stores as bargain basement retail.

To fit this category, the store must be at least 2,000 square feet in size and sell 65 percent of its merchandise for $15 or less.

Santa Maria's abundance of discount stores is why some opponents don't want to see the Mervyn's building turned into a discount store.

Community Development Director Larry Appel says the reason for the moratorium would be to protect the downtown specific plan that passed in 2008 to revitalize that area of the city.

"It's just another option for the council. If the majority of them feel Fallas is not a good idea for the downtown area, they may want to try to prevent other large retailers from coming in that would have a similar product in order to preserve the downtown specific plan area," said Appel.

The moratorium requires approval from 4 of the 5 council members.

The council is currently split on whether to allow a Fallas Discount Store to move into the Mervyn's space.

Appel says the space has been empty for more than five years and costs $50,000 a year in lost sales tax to the city.



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