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Opponents Warn Chinatown Ban On Big Box Stores Sets ‘Dangerous Precedent’

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Councilman Ed Reyes, who introduced the measure, said times have changed since the proposed site for the store was first owned more than 10 years ago. (credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Councilman Ed Reyes, who introduced the measure, said times have changed since the proposed site for the store was first owned more than 10 years ago. (credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — It could be a case of “too little, too late” for business leaders and other opponents of an ordinance passed on Friday that would block major retail chains from opening stores in Chinatown.

KNX 1070’s Margaret Carrero reports the vote will not affect plans to open a new Walmart store in the neighborhood.

The City Council voted 13-0 to direct officials with the Building and Planning Department and City Attorney’s Office to draft a temporary ordinance to block so-called formula retail stores which have standardized facades, decor, signage, or a trademark or servicemark.

However, the ordinance — which was changed Friday to apply only to businesses that are larger than 20,000 square feet — does not block a controversial 33,000-square-foot Wal-Mart grocery store that received final approval late Thursday.

Councilman Ed Reyes, who introduced the measure, said times have changed since the proposed site for the store was first owned more than 10 years ago.

“We did not have the level of accidents between seniors and cars as we have today,” said Reyes.

The move was opposed by the Chinatown Business Improvement District and a handful of residents, who argued Chinatown already has four family-owned grocery stores and that major retail chains would destroy the neighborhood’s character.

But opponents like Carol Schatz, president and CEO of the downtown-based Central City Association, said the ordinance reaches too far and could hinder economic growth in Chinatown.

“It’s a dangerous precedent, it’s over-broad,” said Schatz.

Once drafted, the ordinance will require the approval of the Planning Commission and the full City Council.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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