Wednesday, January 7, 2015

• Walmart Update

Today I attended the Wildomar Chamber of Commerce's monthly breakfast at Denny's. The guest speakers were a team from Walmart and they were giving the latest info on the pending project.

Direct from Walmart's informational handout/flyer.

The main point man for Walmart was Phil Serghini.
 Phil Serghini, Walmart's public affairs director, showing how big the EIR is for this project.

Here are some of the points I jotted down.
  • In RivCo there are 12 Supercenters, with more than 12,000 employees (sorry, I'm not going to call them associates) with an average wage for full time employees of a little over $13 an hour.
    • The Supercenter in Wildomar is set to be 200,000sf
    • A Supercenter is a combination of a discount/general merchandise store and a grocery store. 
    • 300 new jobs.
    • Next step: planning commission meeting January 21, 2015.
    • Once they get a shovel in the ground it takes about 355 days for a Walmart Supercenter to be opened for business.
    • About 45 days before they open they will fill it with merchandise.
    • 110 jobs on the construction site.
    • "We do expect this project to end up in litigation."
    • "We're extremely careful in developing the EIR (environmental Impact Report). The EIRs end up being tremendously big and detailed, we do that to protect ourselves from litigation."

    Time for a little head scratching and doing some WR style analysis on some of that.

    • The last time the topic of Walmart wages came up, late last year sometime, I had heard that they started ALL employees at $13 an hour.... now it's been revised to $13 is the average, and that's for full time employees. Maybe I just had some wax build up in my ears or something... looks like I'd better switch to Pledge.
    • 300 new jobs includes those that are already working at the Grape St location in Lake Elsinore. I listened to the recording I made twice and it wasn't clear that there will be 300 additional jobs, or just 300 jobs at that location.
    • 110 construction jobs are great, but don't tell me that even 50% are going to come from Wildomar. I've known people in industrial construction and they commonly drive hours to a job... I bet they won't even have 10% of the construction jobs filled by WildoMartinis. I don't have a problem with that reality, just don't tout the 110 as if they were going to be filled by locals.

    Charlene So speaking about traffic around the proposed Walmart.
    Key points from the traffic discussion:

    • Constructing Canyon Dr. (A short street that will be directly south of the project)
    • Widening Monte Vista from Bundy Canyon to Canyon Dr.
    • Widening Bundy Canyon to 6 lanes from the freeway to Monte Vista.They will be installing 3 signals. One at the project ingress/egress on Bundy Canyon, another at Canyon Drive and one at Bundy Canyon and Monte Vista.

    There were three questions of note during the Q&A session.

    First up was Kristan Lloyd.

    Q: In that time frame do you do the traffic lights prior to the project or after [construction]? As a good neighbor, even putting one light in [ahead of schedule] would be significant to look at.

    A: It's really hard to say right now because of the scope of the street widening. If it were just a signal it would be a little easier to schedule. You can't put the signal in until after the road is widened. We'll do it as quickly as possible, but in all likelihood all of the street improvements probably won't be completely finished until about the time we open.

    In other words... sorry, but no. The lights won't be up and running until our doors are opened.

    George Taylor asked about the time frame and it being about a year to complete. 

    Phil Serghini answered this way: 
    Assuming that we are approved in the planning commission process, there is someone that sues us (Walmart) regularly, it's like a cottage industry. That person has solicited information from Wildomar, along with other records requests, so we think we're going to be sued here, and once that happens we don't know how long that will take. The plan check process takes six months to a year to get the plans through the city.

    Hmmm... sounds like the APEs will have some competition here. Now the real question is, 'which of those old primates will kick off before the ground breaking?' Looks like a ghoul pool is in order.

    I wanted to cut through the impending litigious haze, so I asked, "I have a question about litigation time. In Walmart's history, what's the quickest, the fewest number of months, versus what is the longest amount of time between initiation of litigation and it being finalized?"

    Matt Nelson, Walmart attorney, stated "It could be anywhere from six months to three years."

    Phil Serghini followed up with:
    Gresham Savage is the law firm and they've been through this on a lot of different projects. We know where we've slipped up in the past, so we know where in the EIR process to really make sure we do it right. People get frustrated because it takes so long... if it were a different store, and different name than Walmart we probably wouldn't have that problem. With Walmart we cross every t and dot every i.

    So if it's between six months and three years, what's your guess? I'm going with 21 months.

    Please participate in the informal poll about Walmart.
    Click to go to poll

    Almost forgot something... for full disclosure I just joined Wildomar's Chamber of Commerce. If that makes me a toady sellout in your eyes, oh well.

    •      •       

    The optimist pleasantly ponders how high his kite will fly; the pessimist woefully wonders how soon his kite will fall. 
    —William Arthur Ward 


    1. Did they have a time line on the building of the new Walmart on Central Avenue and the closure of the Grape Street Walmart?

      1. There is a Walmart public hearing on January 21, 2015 at 6:30pm at City Council Chambers. I'll see if that info can be ascertained at this point. I didn't hear any specific time lines at this point.


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