WatchSonoma Watch

Santa Rosa Planning Commission may revisit Target permit



It may not be on the agenda, but the permit for a Target at Coddingtown Mall is likely to come up again Thursday at Santa Rosa’s

Gottschalks building at Coddingtown. (PD FILE, 2012)

Planning Commission meeting.

Marty Bennett, co-chair of the Sonoma County Living Wage Coalition, said the group will ask the commission to reconsider its vote in light of the flawed employment information provided two weeks ago by a Target executive.

“We think Target should be forthcoming with its wage and benefit information,” Bennett said.

On June 14, the commission voted 4-0 to grant a use permit for a 143,000-square-foot Target to replace the former Gottschalks building, which has been vacant since 2009.

At the meeting, John Dewes, a Target regional development manager, dismissed Bennett’s claims that the retailer would be mostly hiring part-time workers at low wages. Dewes said 60 percent of employees would be full-time and 80 percent would receive benefits.

A spokeswoman later acknowledged that Dewes had mixed up the full-time and part-time ratios and would be clarifying his remarks with the commission.

“Some of my information was incorrect and I am sincerely sorry for this error,” Dewes wrote in a letter received by the city Wednesday.

Dewes said he “unintentionally inverted” the full-time and part-time ratios. Thirty-five to 45 percent of Target employees are typically full-time, he wrote. That means 55 to 65 percent will be part-timers. Half of those part-timers will work 20 to 32 hours per week, enough to qualify for the same benefits as full-timers.

These include health care, a 401(k) plan, employee discounts and paid holidays.

“Target’s wage and benefit packages for full and part-time team members are among the best in the retail industry,” Dewes wrote. “Our goal is to attract, retain, and motivate top talent.”

The letter did not disclose wage information, nor other benefit information, such as the percentage of workers who actually participate in medical plans. Bennett cited a study that estimated only 37 percent of workers receive such benefits, the result of high turnover rates, long wait periods and high co-pays and deductibles.

Bennett is also concerned that Target employees will not earn enough money to afford to live in Sonoma County.

Last year, a community impact report prepared for a new Target superstore in San Rafael estimated that most of its employees would make between $9 and $16.75. Target officials declined to provide updated information to The Press Democrat.

Bennett’s group argues that a living wage in Sonoma County is between $14 per hour for a single person and $33 per hour for a single parent of two children.

The estimate attempts to capture the cost of housing, transportation, health care, child care and food. Bennett said the coalition will reiterate its call for a community impact report on the Target project that would examine the quality of jobs created and the impacts on local businesses.

Commissioner Caroline Banuelos, who previously said she might reconsider her vote in light of the mix-up, said she met with Dewes on Wednesday evening. She said he was “very apologetic” and stressed that “they really want to be good neighbors.”

Banuelos said she needed to consider the issue further before deciding whether to pursue a reconsideration of her vote, a rarely used parliamentary move that a majority of the commission would have to support.

8 Responses to “Santa Rosa Planning Commission may revisit Target permit”

  1. John Reed says:

    Congratulations to the Living Wage Coalition for exposing the systematic lying that Target and other big-box wage exploiters use when selling their projects to communities. The statement by the Target rep that the mistake was a merely an “inversion” of the real numbers was laughable. That is yet another lie. Target routinely uses the inflated figures in their presentations, as witnessed in both Petaluma and San Rafael. That deliberate deception is standard operating procedure.

    I am amused by the craven gullibility of some of the Tea Party posters who endorse their own subjugation to the corporate agenda by stating that “any job is a good job” even if you still have to rely on food stamps and rent subsidies in order to amke on their sub-standard wages and non-existent benefits. This deliberate strategy of “Wal-Marting” the American work force by driving down the wage floor to Second World levels so that more money can be sluiced into the swollen bank accounts of the 1%. That’s why we’re in recession. It’s not because school teachers are getting paid too much money.

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  2. jerome w jones says:

    how many part time employees do Sear’s JC Penny have, and or more than half the stores in both mall’s..maybe we should revisit there business permit toooooooooooo..

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  3. Will says:

    Stop wasting time and $!!! Stop chasing away businesses and jobs!!! Stop hurting our schools by preventing funds from much needed tax revenue!!! You people at the planning commission have no new ideas or good alternatives, and would rather let store fronts rot with decay and grafitti. You people are wishy washy at best and there’s no reason why Target should not be built.

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  4. bear says:

    Go to the front of almost any zoning ordinance and you’ll see that their primary purpose is to “protect the public health, safety and welfare.”

    So it is legitimate for the PC to consider whether these jobs are McJobs or family wage jobs. Target’s rep admits he misled the PC on that issue.

    Then there’s the problem of legislative record. If the PC decides an issue on facts that were known, or should have been known, to be wrong, it leaves the decision wide open to court challenge. Hey, let’s make jobs for lawyers!

    The PC’s choice to revisit the decision is likely due to the need to bullet-proof it against future legal challenges.

    That’s the conservative option.

    Hey, I support the project!

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  5. Shelli says:

    For Gods sake open up the Target at the dead end mall and give some people a job and bring some business tax into the city. It is a flippin no brainer……Gheeeesseee

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  6. Grapevines says:

    Let the worthless planning commission get involved in this and watch Target pull out of it all together. And then Coddingtown will continue to die and the city can wring it’s hands wondering why it’s losing sales tax revenue.

    I regard the planning commission to be on the same level of worthlessness as the group that oversees traffic planning. 35 MPH in Fountaingrove where the “nobs” live and helter-skelter everywhere else.

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  7. We Didn't Do It says:

    The residents of Santa Rosa need Target to open a store in the dead mall. Bennett and the little band of radical socialists need to zip it. The private sector in the real world use prevailing wages as the basis of determining wages, not a feel good wage.

    Some realism needs to be applied to politics of Santa Rosa’s planning commission and city council.

    Wake up, there is a long, deep recession/depression in Sonoma County and every job is a good job.

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  8. Canthisbe says:

    “Bennett’s group argues that a living wage in Sonoma County is between $14 per hour for a single person and $33 per hour for a single parent of two children.

    The estimate attempts to capture the cost of housing, transportation, health care, child care and food. Bennett said the coalition will reiterate its call for a community impact report on the Target project that would examine the quality of jobs created and the impacts on local businesses.”
    The Living Wage Coalition of Sonoma County should not be a factor in anything let alone whether the Planning Commission approves a building.
    “The Planning Commission is charged with carrying out the purposes of California Planning and Zoning Law. Primarily this means that the Planning Commission implements plans, ordinances and policies relating to land use matters.”
    It is not the Planning Commission’s job to destroy capitalism, impose a socialist economic system or advance the power of unions.
    The LWCS is a coalition of progressive / socialist groups, unions and non-profit organizations. Mostly unions. http://www.livingwagesonoma.org/
    The stated concepts(as opposed to the real underlying concepts) make no sense. If the marketplace were forced to pay people according to the LWCS’s theories advanced by LWCS are nonsensical. If employers were required to pay employees a minimum wage of $14 per hour for a single person and $33 per hour for a single parent of two children, no one would hire a single parent of two children until after every qualified single person was hired. A single parent with four kids? Who would hire them?
    In general terms, you pay an employee for the value that they add to the business. If they cost more than the value they add, you don’t hire them, or if you do, you go out of business after awhile and then they back to unemployed.
    The best way to drive up wages is to encourage businesses to open here and increase the competition for capable employees, not try to block businesses from opening here.

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