September 23: Walmart announces it’ll be putting a 118,000-square-foot store in Aspen Hill, Maryland. October 11: Montgomery County Council president Valerie Ervin introduces legislation that would require all stores larger than 75,000 square feet to at least try to negotiate community benefits agreements with three nearby community associations, or face delays in opening. Ba da bum.
Meanwhile, nearly a year after four Walmarts were announced in the District, bills that would require community benefits agreements and labor standards of big box stores have gone nowhere, as has Mayor Vince Gray‘s promised CBA (at least, a spokesman with the Department of Planning and Economic Development hasn’t yet responded to a query for the latest). The only individual CBA attached to one of the developments, in Ward 7, is still in negotiations prior to review by the Zoning Commission.
Will Ervin’s bill go any further than D.C. Councilemember Phil Mendelson‘s? Dunno, MoCo’s not my beat. And the super-liberal Council did just cave on a proposed super-liberal-but-mostly-symbolic resolution opposing defense spending. But even if it’s just a statement, it’s a lot stronger one than any politician in D.C. has made so far.
UPDATE, 12:38 p.m. – Here’s Walmart spokesman Steve Restivo‘s statement on the bill:
Our role as a good corporate citizen is well documented all across the country and we’re finding that the more people learn facts about the company, the more they see the value in having a Walmart store in their community. The truth is we already do most things residents want from development such as hiring locally, supporting community organizations and offering competitive wages and benefits. One doesn’t need to look much further than Washington D.C. to see how committed we are to supporting the neighborhoods where we do business. The three-letter-word we hear most in our conversations with elected officials, stakeholders and residents across the region is not “C-B-A”, but “J-O-B.” We encourage the Montgomery County Council to support opportunities to stimulate economic development rather than creating arbitrary and discriminatory hurdles that will discourage recovery.