Wal-Mart's initial proposal for a 142,000-square foot store near Hercules' San Pablo Bay waterfront were rejected by the City Council. So the company submitted a scaled-down plan that included a pedestrian plaza, two outdoor eating areas and other small shops, including a pharmacy.
Hercules said no again, and opponents began raising the possibility of eminent domain, a legal tactic where government agencies can take land from its owners for the public good. Cities sometimes use eminent domain to build roads or redevelop properties, but the owners must be paid fair market value for their land.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that such seizures are allowable if the construction raises the tax base and benefits the entire community. Some residents and city officials say the land, which is currently open space, would be better suited for upscale stores that attract affluent shoppers and give the suburb a classy touch.
The Supreme Court's decision allowing seizures is going to be it's worse decision in history. Even big corporations like Wal-Mart are not going to be safe from the tyranny of local governments. What's really bad about this community is that they don't mind if shops are on that land, they just don't want them to be Wal-Mart.