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Second march for Calexico merchants

April 30, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Black Tuesday II.

For the second time, downtown merchants, San Diego commercial food worker union representatives and Calexico citizens opposed to a Super Wal-Mart in town will parade down Heber Avenue, marching on City Hall to call for a special election.

The protesters are calling the march "Black Tuesday II" but downtown stores will not be closed for an hour as they were during the first protest march April 3.

Organizers said they are marching to Tuesday's Calexico City Council meeting because the council will decide whether to repeal the "big box" ordinance that would keep the Calexico Wal-Mart from expanding into a Super Wal-Mart or set a special election for March 2002 on the ordinance.

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At the April 3 meeting both sides argued in favor of a special election.

After voting on the ordinance, the council will focus on new housing and business developments in the northeast side of Calexico and discuss the possibility of the Mexican consulate moving into the old City Hall.

The council will then conduct a special hearing to determine if the ordinance that prohibits people from standing on municipal buses is necessary.

The City Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall, 608 Heber Avenue.

First on the agenda is ordinance No. 933, the "big box" ordinance.

The council could set the date for a special election or just repeal the ordinance, which states a store of more than 150,000 square feet can only devote 7.5 percent of floor space to non-taxable items.

According to City Clerk Lourdes Cordova, Wal-Mart supporters gathered signatures of more than 1,452 registered voters to authorize a referendum on the ordinance.

"I have determined that the number of valid signatures represent in excess of 10 percent of the registered voters needed in order to place this matter on the ballot of the next general municipal election in March 2002," Cordova wrote in a letter to the council.

The council now must put the referendum on the ballot for the next election unless it repeals the ordinance.

Another ordinance the council will deliberate Tuesday concerns buses.

At the previous City Council meeting, Luis Castro, the owner of two bus lines that operate solely within city limits, asked the council to repeal the ordinance that prohibits his clients from standing in buses.

Castro told the council he had handrails installed on his buses and said standing on buses is common and safe.

Calexico businessman David Ouzan blasted Castro and accused him of tinkering with his buses like toys.

Ouzan said standing on buses is unsafe. He said the council was only considering the issue because some council members used Castro's buses to advertise their election campaigns.

The council gave no indication which way the vote would go. Some members said they sympathize with Castro's concern and others questioned the safety of standing and the liability the city could take on by repealing the ordinance.

City Attorney Michael Rood said the city could decide on the issue because the bus lines operate in city limits.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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