Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wal-Mart Sustains Hypocrisy

While we're all talking about traffic congestion, asthma rates and sustainability, the mayor's full policy monty, now being sold to the city by the NYC Partnership, raises some interesting points of conflict. What does everyone think about the fact that Wal-Mart, the country's largest generator of auto-dependent shoppers, has joined with the born-again environmentalists at the Partnership? This fascinating case of blurred messaging is mentioned by Azi in today's Politicker.

We're, of course, extremely familiar with this issue since we have stayed on top of the traffic problems that the Walmonster poses for any locality. Most recently, the threat of traffic induced mayhem was the catalyst behind the opposition to the box store giant on Staten Island; and we believe will also spell the death knell for the retailer in Monsey, New York. In the case of Monsey, our consultant Brian Ketcham estimates that the store will generate an additional 3,000,000 car trips a year. That's a lot of CO2 emissions.

So what we have is the Partnership, the new Greenpeace of New York, hooking up with Wal-Mart and seeing nothing contradictory about the relationship. In fact, the Partnership's Kathy Wylde, conjecturing about the rationale for the hook-up, and what it means for the siting of a Wal-Mart in the city, tells the Observer; "Obviously they wouldn't be joining if they weren't thinking about it."

Which brings us to the point we've already made about the lacuna in PlaNYC: its failure to consider traffic in the outer boroughs, the importance of neighborhood shopping, and the threat that the proliferation of box stores like Wal-Mart poses to the kind of sustainability that is represented by the preservation of neighborhood ecology. The Partnership's shilling for congestion pricing in this context is unseemly, to say the least.