It is my belief, and I know it is shared with countless others, that a local government’s ability to make decisions for its community are often better, specific, efficient and flexible as compared to the decisions made by faceless committees in Capitol buildings miles away. They don’t know the special issues we face every day and they don’t understand the needs we have here in Antioch.
That’s why I am opposed to Senate Bill 469 by Sen. Juan Vargas (D – San Diego). The so-called “Small and Neighborhood Business Protection Act” should really be called the “State Legislators Knows Best Act.” Ultimately, this legislation substitutes the judgment of local elected officials for the judgment of politicians in Sacramento; and it clearly targets superstores.
Here is how it would work: the bill would impose new state requirements before a superstore can be built in a community. This would add another layer of bureaucratic red tape, and now is not the time to be passing laws that stifle local control and effectively bans superstores.
While this bill may be good politics, it’s bad policy.
For example, right now, our city is experiencing financial struggles with high unemployment and few opportunities for economic development. Recently, however, our city approved an expansion of the Walmart store, which will bring in more jobs and revenue. This project is currently stuck in court, and so if SB 469 passes, our anticipated additional revenue and jobs will be in jeopardy.
The bill mandates that more studies be performed before a store can be built. In fact, a recent analysis of the bill by Kosmont Companies found that the bill was so poorly written that it would create an environment of litigation much worse that what we are already experiencing here in Antioch.
Additionally, many cities across the state have urban decay studies and regulatory standards. The fact is that local communities throughout California already have policies in place that address the building of supercenters.
Each local government is able to define what works for their community and what doesn’t. They are able to adapt their powers to fit local conditions and local governments are empowered to own that process. This legislation would ultimately take away that important decision-making process.
The fact is that local communities, like ours, need economic development. SB 469 has the potential to stifle economic growth by creating another layer of bureaucratic red tape, which can lead to the loss of badly-needed tax revenues for cities. The result will be many California cities will continue to run deficits and may have to cut vital services like police and fire.
And the fact is that local communities know best. This issue is about trust: do we trust local communities to make decisions? And the legislators supporting this bill clearly do not trust the authority and transparency of local government oversight.
Wouldn’t it be better if state legislators worked with us to turn around our state’s economy? SB 469 will not help solve our state’s high unemployment rate, and it certainly won’t help bring in revenue to assist bridging the gap of our massive budget deficit.
Today, our state is faced with the worst economic crisis in years. It will take all of us working together to find a solution. I believe there is a simple formula that will turn the economy around: if we let local government do its job and attract businesses appropriate for our community, then we will create new jobs and revenue for city, county and state services.
So the choice facing the legislature is simple: do we let local governments decide what is best for our communities? Or do we let Sacramento pass laws that will cause roadblocks and hinder ability for growth? The answer is obvious: tell your legislator to oppose SB 469.