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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Campaign Crunch Time for Target and Measure K

As the election is now less than two weeks away, we are being bombarded with campaign literature.

Yesterday I received a letter signed by among others former and future Mayor Ruth Asmundson and Former County Supervisor Betsy Marchand declaring that they are my "neighbors," "PTA leaders," "coworkers" and "my friends." Leaving aside that they are none of these, they declare that they "have listened to both sides of the debate are voting for Measure K because..." Ruth Asmundson did not listen to both sides of any debate, she is part of the council majority that brought this issue forward, fast-tracked it, and then decided to place it on the ballot.

The letter cites the number of out-of-town shopping trips by Davis residents to Target as being 300,000 and that the trip is 19 miles round-trip from Davis and that adds up to more than $530,525 per year of gas. Sounds convincing right? Well, now account for this. Target in the Second Street Crossing location for me would be a 12 mile round trip, that saves only 7 miles per trip. Moreover, it would be city miles most likely rather than highway miles, so I may burn comparable amounts of gas. Certainly not enough of a difference to want to bring in a Target. People have the tendency when going to shop out of town to make fewer trips and make more purchases there. If the average person makes five trips a year at 19 miles round trip, if it were say an average of 8 miles round trip, they might make 15 trips per year, and the gas mileage is at best a wash. It's hard to calculate because the building of a more convenient Target is likely to change people's shopping habits.

But there is more--Target in Woodland is not a stand alone and so usually the rare times I went to Target I did it in conjunction with going to Gottschalks (a much larger store than the one in Davis), Mervyns, and other shopping needs. Target was never my only targeted destination. And so the argument that we would substantially cut down on our out-of-city trips is misleading. That of course leads me to conclude they will eventually have to bring in more such business to Davis because they will amazingly discover that Target does not fulfill all of our shopping needs (or any of mine as I head down the road to Vacaville for my COSTCO experience).

Next they try to tempt me once again with the LEED certification of the store, which is the equivalent of putting a pollution filter on a Hummer--it's not dealing with the environmentally disastrous portion of Target which is on the production rather than the consumption end. They claim that the building will reduce 12,000 pounds of CO2 emissions annually but fail to cite how bad Target is globally for CO2 emissions.

The meager wages and Asmundson's opposition to a living wage ordinance that would apply to Target means that Target workers will not be able to afford to reside in the city of Davis. So while they make the claim that it brings in 250 jobs, they fail to mention that none of those jobs will pay people enough to live in Davis. Nor does it get into their anti-union activities nor does it get into the sweat shops that produce the goods we buy. Funny that we never hear a discussion of that from the Target supports. Yes Asmundson claims to support unions, but ask the Unions if they plan on endorsing her any time soon.

And finally they mention it will allow us to "capture about $1 million each year in local sales tax revenue..." The figure that had been cited was $659,000. Now it's a $1 million, I wish they could make up their minds. Neither figure mitigates for the possibility of alternative development at that cite and so to paraphrase Sue Greenwald, it is a comparison of the revenue that Target generates versus the revenue of a vacant field--inflated numbers or not.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting