A city in the heart of Northern California wine country is considering banning overnight “camping” and the sale of RVs during promotional events at the local Wal-Mart, according to a report in the Contra Costa Times.
The Livermore City Council approved Wal-Mart’s proposal for an outdoor enclosed storage area, along with a storefront sidewalk display of living plant materials and a parking lot sales area operating up to 80 days a year.
The panel postponed action, however, on a Planning Commission’s proposal to prohibit overnight parking in the Wal-Mart lot, except by store employees, and to ban RV sales by special-event promoters who lease parking lot space from Wal-Mart.
Councilwoman Marj Leider said overnight parking in the Wal-Mart lot has created some security problems, citing among other things an assault in October of 2002 of a 65-year-old Michigan man parked in his motorhome.
Some other council members suggested there may be a public benefit to Wal-Mart’s practice of allowing motorists on long trips, beleaguered with car problems or perhaps simply too tired to keep driving, to park for the night in front of a Wal-Mart.
“That’s been sort of a tradition across the country,” Mayor Marshall Kamena said.
Wal-Mart representatives told the council that stores across the country abide by local rules governing overnight parking. The Livermore store, they said, would be no exception.
They urged the city to continue allowing Wal-Mart to lease parking lot space for RV sales events through special-event permits.
At the request of the council, city staff is exploring what, if any, sales tax revenue Livermore gets from the sale of RVs at such events.
Councilwoman Lorraine Dietrich said she opposed parking lot sales, even of Wal-Mart’s own merchandise, let alone of RVs owned by other companies.
Wal-Mart’s Livermore parking lot has 200 more spaces than required under city guidelines for a store its size.
The store “came in and argued they needed all this parking for customers,” Dietrich observed.