Sacramento should keep its big-box ban

Keep an eye on Sacramento's big-box debate at

Sacramento can’t have it both ways. It has to choose:

Does it want to be the Farm-to-Fork Capital, a destination for fresh, homegrown agriculture served every day at restaurants, grocery stores and farmers markets?

And, to that end, will it stay on the road to becoming an “Emerald Valley,” as the mayor put it: a national hub of eco-friendly living and green-tech innovation?

Or, will it settle for Walmart?

Sacramento’s green future was on the line last week as the city held the first of several public workshops to discuss altering or eliminating its 2005 ordinance banning big-box stores inside the city limits.

The now eight-year-old law, which was passed out of fear that Walmart would open a retail-grocery superstore in the Downtown Plaza, prohibits retail spaces larger than 90,000 square feet and that boast at least 10 percent of space devoted to groceries (members-only megaretail spots like Costco are excluded).

This big-box debate has labor and business interests at odds. Unions decry wages and practices at superstores like Walmart, while chamber-of-commerce types say allowing megastores will kick-start a resurgence of economic growth and larger retail centers in Sacramento. Council members in general have yet to show their cards on reversing the ban; they’ll debate the matter in July.

For us at SN&R, though, it’s straightforward. We all know megastores specialize in fruits and vegetables that often are genetically modified, grown with pesticides and delivered from all over the world.

Not very “farm-to-fork.”

Shuttling oranges and celery from far-flung locales doesn’t bode well for the region’s carbon footprint, either.

So much for being an Emerald Valley.

SN&R insists that the city keep its big-box ban—and instead focus on nurturing smart growth and sustainable local businesses that will make Sacramento eco-friendly and unique for decades to come.