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City planning panel backs temporary ban on big-box stores in Chinatown


Alarmed by plans for a Wal-Mart grocery 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 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 by the Planning Commission to reject a temporary ban.

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


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Photo: Two months ago, a sign on the door at the Chinatown site of the proposed Walmart announced the company's plans. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez/Los Angeles Times 

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