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November 2003

As part of the Center on Policy Initiatives’ efforts to promote sound economic development and land use policy in San Diego, this study looks at the impact of a large subsidized development on the local community and the region.

In this report we examine the impact on the community and the region of the College Grove Redevelopment Project – which includes a Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. This project received $13.4 million in the form of public assistance, including $9.5 million for Wal-Mart. We look beyond fiscal impacts and incorporate an analysis of the impacts on employment, housing, neighborhood services and the environment.

In each chapter of this report, we raise a number of questions about the project’s impact and if it was the best for the community. Overall, a number of significant impacts stand out:

  • The city spent nearly $14 million in assistance, Wal-Mart receiving nearly $10 million.
  • There is a net fiscal return from the project annually, but this is significantly offset by other costs.
  • The majority of the jobs pay below a self-sufficiency wage and just above half of the employees have employer provided health care.
  • The project design is bad for smart growth planning and contributes to sprawl due to increased traffic.
  • There are significant impacts on small business.
  • The project does contribute to affordable housing indirectly through the set-aside of affordable housing funds administered by the Redevelopment Agency, however, the project also eliminated lands for potential housing in the local community.