A handful of San Ramon residents gathered in front of a future Walmart Neighborhood Market to protest the big box retailer and call for more transparency in city government.
About 12 people gathered at 9100 Alcosta Boulevard, the site of the new store, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Wednesday with signs reading "No Walmart in San Ramon" and "We Want a Hearing" as potential contractors and subcontractors entered the vacant building. Tenant improvement plans for the 4.05-acre lot (inside the Country Club Village Center) were previously approved by the city, though there has been some debate as to whether officials knew about what would occupy the storefront.
"We got lots of honks, thumbs up, waves, a lot of people stopped their cars to ask about next City Council meeting," said Barbara Kellogg, a member of Smart Growth for San Ramon. "I think some people are perfectly O.K. with the grocery store, but our biggest gripe is that we never received an email…about any occurrences regarding the 9100 Alcosta site."
On Feb. 6, the city of San Ramon released a statement acknowledging plans had been approved in 2009 for another grocery in the same location, but said they were previously unaware that the Arkansas-based company would be the new tenant. Some of the protesters accused the city of lying about its lack of knowledge, but city officials did not return calls for comment.
"It's just very frustrating as a citizen…at least give us a chance to weigh in," Kellogg said.
Other residents in attendance expressed concerns about increased traffic as the result of additional signage and deliveries, noise from a possible tire center (though no plans for auto service have been discussed) and the loss of small businesses. Walmart has a history of moving in and forcing out other businesses, they said.
Kellogg said her group plans on holding another protest this weekend and will eventually speak in front of the City Council.
"Most importantly, we want transparency, we want truth, we want people on the council to tell us what their large plans are," she said.