News / USA

Proposed Chinatown Walmart Sparks Debate

Walmart's proposed store at this site in Los Angeles' Chinatown has sparked protests against the retail giant.
Walmart's proposed store at this site in Los Angeles' Chinatown has sparked protests against the retail giant.
Sarah Williams
Following months of controversy and attempted legal injunctions, a Walmart store is scheduled to open soon on the edge of Los Angeles' Chinatown.

"This story has so many angles and so many layers, that it's very complex in my opinion," said Philip Young, past president of the Chinese Americans Citizens Alliance, Los Angeles Lodge, and a former resident of Chinatown. "If you ask me, 'Do you think you need a store in that location?,' the answer is definitely yes."

The store is located about 500 meters from the center of Chinatown, and will contain a grocery store and a pharmacy. It is considered a Walmart Neighborhood Market, which is about a quarter the size of the usual store. It is also on the ground floor of a building containing apartments for senior citizens, many of them Chinese Americans.

Walmart spokesman Steven Restivo says the store will fulfill a need.

"When you look at that area of downtown Los Angeles, it's clear that folks don't have enough grocery options close to their neighborhoods, so we think this Walmart Neighborhood Market can really be part of the solution for residents who just want more choices in their own neighborhood," he said.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told the Huffington Post last week said he would not stop Walmart's move to Chinatown, despite protests against the store.

"I am not going to use the city's powers to deny something that they have a right to do with or without us. They would've sued, and they would've won," said Villaraigosa.

Although the LA City Council unanimously approved an emergency ban on chain retail stores in the historic Chinatown area in March, Walmart surprised the Council by obtaining the building permits it needed the night before. The city's issuance of the permits is currently being appealed by unions and some Chinatown business owners and residents.

Some public officials such as California Congresswoman Judy Chu have stepped forward to oppose the new store.

Chinatown Los AngelesChinatown Los Angeles
x
Chinatown Los Angeles
Chinatown Los Angeles
"Chinatown is a tourist destination and people go there because it has a unique characteristic," Chu said. "To think that some cookie cutter [mass-produced] company's going to go in there and take over the functions so that people go and get their 99-cent cake there rather than shop at the local bakery in Chinatown is just too horrendous to contemplate."


Lisa See is the author of many books, including Shanghai Girls and On Gold Mountain, which chronicle Los Angeles' Chinese American community. Her family has historic ties to Chinatown, and she served as Grand Marshal of the 2012 Golden Dragon Parade to celebrate the Chinese New Year. She opposes the plan because she believes the new store could change the nature of the ethnically diverse area.

"I think this is a terrible mistake, just a terrible, terrible mistake," See said. "I think as we look back a year from now, two years from now, 10 years from now, we're going to look back and think this was not a good thing. You can never erase Walmart."

But Philip Young, who emigrated to the U.S. in 1980 from Guangdong Province, China, believes the Walmart store will be a much needed addition to the neighborhood. He said residents have to drive long distances to shop for household products that can't be found in Chinatown stores.

"When I used to live in Chinatown, other than going to the Chinatown commercial area to get the Chinese groceries, and what not, if you want to get anything mainstream, normal, good old U.S.A. things a person would use you would have to drive outside of my neighborhood to shop," Young said.

Walmart says the new store will create about 65 jobs, for which it has received about 2,000 applications, and intends to hire people from the area.

Restivo says Walmarts often improve local economies, and he expects the new store to do the same.

"If you walk around the vicinity of our planned Walmart Neighborhood Market, there are lots of empty store fronts," he said. "I think everyone can agree that a vibrant store front is always better than an empty, dormant building."

But one passerby, who asked to remain anonymous, believes the new Walmart could hurt local businesses, such as a nearby liquor store.

"I grew up right in this area, so I'd rather see that liquor store than a Walmart," he said. "From what I know, all these little stores hired people from the community in this Chinatown area, so I'm pretty sure that Walmart's not going to hire most of us, maybe a couple of us, but I doubt it."

This past summer, The Los Angeles Times endorsed the proposed store, saying Walmart had complied with the city's zoning rules and that the retailer would bring needed jobs and business opportunities to the neighborhood.

You May Like

Somalia: No Popular Elections in 2016

In interview Wednesday with VOA, President Mohamud says 'one person, one vote' elections will not be possible due to continuing insecurity More

Scientists Predict Climate Change Will Increase Child Malnutrition

Public health expert in Germany says that by 2050, 25 million more children's lives will be put at risk because of lack of nutrients tied to climate change More

Erdogan in China Amid Tensions on Uighurs, Missile System

Turkey's president has criticized China's heavy-handed policies toward Uighurs in violence-plagued Xinjiang region, where China says it is fighting foreign-backed separatists More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs