Trying to understand resistance to having a Walmart in Chinatown

There's not that much to understand - City Councilman Ed Reyes introduced a motion that could effectively block the retail giant from opening in Chinatown in part because the unions are against it. And it's easy to see why: Walmart threatens to take business away from the big supermarkets, which are struggling to compete against the low-cost chains - and which are union shops. It's a legitimate concern. If I were a union leader, I'd be pushing hard to keep Walmart out, too. But this Reyes guy isn't willing to face the cameras and simply admit that he doesn't want a Walmart in his district. Instead, he insists he's not taking sides, but just wants to "'maintain the character of Chinatown." This, of course, is nonsense. Look, it's possible that nearby groceries might lose some business to the new Walmart; there have been all sorts of studies on the effects of Walmarts on neighboring retailers and the conclusions go in all directions. But that's not the point - the point is that city government has no place meddling in what's essentially a business decision. There is some irony here: Reyes' political buddy, Mayor Villaraigosa, has been on a tear lately about the importance of bringing more business to the city. The mayor hasn't taken a position on the Walmart/Chinatown controversy, but at some point he'll need to. Perhaps by then Reyes will figure out how to oppose the Walmart store without really saying he opposes the Walmart store.

More by Mark Lacter:
American-US Air settlement with DOJ includes small tweak at LAX
Socal housing market going nowhere fast
Amazon keeps pushing for faster L.A. delivery
Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
How does Stanford compete with the big boys?
Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
Best to low-ball today's employment report
Further fallout from airport shootings
Crazy opening for Twitter*
Should Twitter be valued at $18 billion?
Recent Downtown stories:
L.A.'s half-baked approach to quake readiness
A look around inside the Broad
LA to get denser and denser and denser
Some ideas to help Grand Park become the urban oasis we need
'Chinatown' screening in Union Station (photo)

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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