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L.A. planning panel seeks temporary ban on big-box stores downtown

Council panel's temporary ban on big-box stores in downtown Los Angeles is a reaction to Wal-Mart's planned Chinatown grocery but would not affect that project.

August 22, 2012|By Catherine Saillant, Los Angeles Times
  • Wal-Mart wants to open a 33,000-square-foot grocery store on the ground floor of this apartment building on the edge of Chinatown. The retail space has been vacant for years.
Wal-Mart wants to open a 33,000-square-foot grocery store on the ground… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)

Alarmed by plans for aWal-Martgrocery store in Chinatown, a city planning committee Tuesday approved a temporary ban on large retail chain stores setting up shop in the downtown district.

In a 2-1 vote, members of the Los Angeles Planning and Land Use Management panel found that if the city doesn't act, an infusion of big-box stores could endanger the unique cultural character of Chinatown. The viability of the historic neighborhood is at risk, said committee Chairman Ed Reyes.

Reyes and fellow committee member Jose Huizar instructed the city's Planning Department to prepare an ordinance that would temporarily ban chain stores larger than 20,000 square feet from gaining permits. The proposed ordinance would go to the City Council for approval.

Councilman Mitchell Englander, the sole no vote, made no public comments.

Tuesday's action overrides a 5-2 vote last month by the Planning Commission to reject a temporary ban.

A city planning official said Tuesday's vote would not affect building permits issued toWal-Martin March to build a 33,000-square-foot grocery store at Cesar Chavez and Grand avenues.

catherine.saillant@latimes.com

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