Follow Wal-Mart’s lead, Chico: Nix supercenter

Heather Schlaff, a Chico resident since 1992, has been involved in coordinating opposition to Wal-Mart’s proposed expansion for five years.

Editor’s note: When this story was published, the Chico Planning Commission had a hearing on this matter scheduled for April 3. This hearing has been postponed, date TBA.

It’s been four years since the environmental-impact report process began to determine the effects of expanding the Forest Avenue Wal-Mart into a “supercenter.” Finally, a Planning Commission hearing is scheduled for April 3, when a decision will be made to approve or deny the project.

Wal-Mart recently withdrew plans to build a supercenter in north Chico. While I applaud this decision, the company is continuing plans to expand existing stores into supercenters in Chico, Willows and Redding, and to construct new supercenters in Oroville, Paradise and Red Bluff.

We’re surrounded.

During these past four years, Chico Advocates for a Responsible Economy has struggled to get out the message that “one Wal-Mart is more than enough.” CARE’s goal is not to run Wal-Mart out of Chico, but to stop Wal-Mart from building an unnecessary supercenter at either end of town.

Let’s be clear: Chico does not need a supercenter.

Supercenters are expanded versions of regular Wal-Marts with the addition of discount groceries. There already are three discount grocers within a one-mile radius of the proposed supercenter: Costco, Winco and Food Maxx.

A supercenter will not bring something new to Chico. It will exaggerate traffic congestion, further degrade our air quality and negatively impact the local economy. According to the EIR, these impacts are “significant and unavoidable.”

If you think traffic is a nightmare now, imagine that it will take you approximately 11 minutes to travel up East 20th Street from the Highway 99 exit through the Forest Avenue intersection. Those are the conclusions of the EIR should the supercenter be built.

The EIR also says the supercenter could close three existing grocery stores. Food Maxx is one of those. We do not need to close one discount grocery to replace it with another!

Don’t buy Wal-Mart’s claim in a recent full-page ad that a supercenter will add “750 quality new jobs.” It simply doesn’t add up when you consider the closure of three existing stores and the significant job loss caused by those closures.

Enough is enough. Make your voice heard. Contact the Planning Commission and City Council. Attend the April 3 hearing. Check out the CARE Web site ( E-mail us if you need more information (

Preserve the quality and character of Chico. Let’s not become another “Anywhere, USA.”