Does anybody else find it puzzling that the group that named itself "Citizens for Ceres" did not raise a single hackle about the Dollar General project, which was approved last week by the Ceres Planning Commission?
"Citizens," of course, was the group that appeared out of nowhere to forcefully exerted pressure on the city to reject the Mitchell Ranch Shopping Center and accompanying Walmart Supercenter store. The city finally approved the Supercenter after years of environmental review, but "Citizens" continues its fight by filing a lawsuit to hold up the development in court. No telling when the shopping center - complete with an Applebee's and other businesses - actually breaks ground.
Oddly, no members of the group, which claims to be "interested in ensuring quality of life in the community" were to be found when the commission mulled approval of a 9,100-square-foot Dollar General for the corner of Malik Drive and Whitmore Avenue.
Why is that odd? The same arguments used against Walmart could have been applied to a fight against Dollar General. They weren't.
The first fuss that Citizens made about the Walmart project was the alleged disregard for the welfare of kit foxes which supposedly frolic on the site of the proposed Supercenter. Surely kit foxes have pranced on the site of the Dollar General but come on now - there is probably an elderberry beetle feasting on shrubs or snakes living there that need protection for crying out loud.
Forgive the sarcasm, but "Citizens" showed zero concern for the bugs and weeds that thrive on the Dollar General site. They would have for Walmart. Where, oh where, Mr. Jolley, is your compassion for the earth worms and grass hoppers whose habitat will be paved over in the name of Dollar General making a buck?
Why wasn't "Citizens" as concerned about Ceres having two Dollar Generals operating in close proximity in Ceres as they were when Walmart initially indicated it would operate two stores on Mitchell Road? Dollar General will be operating two stores within a mile and a half of each other on Whitmore Avenue. Where is the outrage from the "Citizens of Ceres"?
And to borrow Sherri Jacobson's primary objection of Walmart for selling only cheap inferior goods made in China, why wasn't she rattling sabers in protest of Dollar General? All it sells is cheap product too.
I'm left scratching my head as to why Jacobson didn't protest Dollar General - albeit a lot smaller than the Supercenter - with the argument that she used against Walmart in a March 2011 letter to the editor: "Wal-Mart adds no value to the local economy because almost everything they sell is already being sold at other check-out lines in Ceres, including the existing Wal-Mart store. Adding largely non-taxable groceries will not help Ceres' bottom line." Insert "Dollar General" for "Walmart" into her letter and you basically have a Jacobson style argument against Dollar General. I hate to say it but Dollar General will be selling items already being sold in Ceres. Come to think of it, she should have protested the approval of O'Reilly Auto Parts on Mitchell Road because those products are already being sold at Auto Zone across the street. Private enterprise be damned if a town has too many of anything. While we're at it, put a moratorium on McDonald's. And surely only one Burger King is needed to handle business from a city of 47,000 people.
I have more questions. Why didn't "Citizens" bring into the Planning Commission arena Walmart slayer gladiator Brett Jolley to fight Dollar General just as they did to battle - of all things - the three-way stop at Fowler and Lunar? (The stop signs had nothing to do with Walmart and everything to do with Jacobson not wanting them in her neighborhood). To fight the signs, Jolley drew from his quiver of legal arrows, the inadequate environmental impact study argument. (Jolley loves to throw down the California Environmental Quality Act gauntlet). Surely he could have used CEQA to block or delay development of the Dollar General. You're slacking, dude.
I'm also curious as to where "Citizens" member Florence Cardenas was? Years back she wrote a letter to the Courier about the Supercenter, saying in part "our elected officials shouldn't allow anyone to develop before first making sure the roadways and highway intersections will accommodate the traffic congestion it will bring." Why wasn't "Citizens" interested in the impacts Dollar General will have on Ceres west side streets? Was there no concern about adding congestion to an already inadequately functioning intersection of Whitmore and Morgan?
In an ultimate act of treason to their stated mission, "Citizens" wasn't even concerned about the architectural look of the Dollar General project! Hard to believe given how Jacobson pressed Walmart to give Ceres a nicer looking store - the exterior design already impressed me - as if a metal shed had been proposed.
What? No expressed concern about the crime being brought into Westpointe from Dollar General?
There was nobody from "Citizens" to suggest Ceres Police will be strapped handling crime reports from Dollar General like with Walmart.
No concern about neighborhood kids being struck by cars driven by Dollar General customers.
No concern about Dollar General burning up electrical consumption.
No concern about noise and light pollution.
Boy my faith in humanity is shot. All this time I was told "Citizens" were only motivated by their concern of how Ceres is developed. Apparently they have no concern about projects that don't involve Walmart.
Or about select stop signs located away from members' homes.
How do you feel? Let Jeff know at firstname.lastname@example.org