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LOS ANGELES - Citizens of Inglewood, a working-class Los Angeles suburb, will decide today whether to approve a ballot initiative sponsored by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. to authorize plans for a new shopping center adjacent to Hollywood Park race track.
If approved, the initiative will pave the way for the shopping center's new tenants to be exempt from any further city planning or environmental reviews. However, the plan would still need to survive a challenge in state court.
Wal-Mart maintains that in Inglewood and elsewhere its stores create jobs, and contends that residents should decide for themselves whether they want the stores in their community.
Last year the Inglewood City Council blocked the proposed shopping center that would include a traditional Wal-Mart as well as other stores. Wal-Mart, in turn, collected more than 10,000 signatures to push for today's referendum.
Rev. Jesse Jackson was among several religious and community leaders who rallied yesterday to urge voters in the city of 117,000 to defeat the measure, arguing that it would give companies such as Wal-Mart the right to develop stores without having to go through the usual rigors of public zoning, traffic, and environmental reviews and hearings.
According to campaign finance records, Wal-Mart has spent more than $1 million in its Inglewood campaign, while opponents reportedly have spent considerably less in their efforts to block the initiative.