A glossy flyer extolling the virtues of the proposed Tehachapi Walmart gave city administrators a headache recently, as it appeared — at a glance — that it was from the city.
The flyer was titled “Your New Tehachapi Walmart Store” and read:
“Walmart needs the City of Tehachapi's approval in order to bring this new store to your community,” the flyer read. “Supporters are encouraged to write or email a letter of support to the city at…”
The address that followed was that of the City of Tehachapi Planning Commission, c/o Community Development Director David James.
“We've never prospected for Walmart for obvious reasons,” James said at the Oct. 6 meeting of the Greater Tehachapi Economic Development Council, holding up a copy of the flyer.
Both James and City Manager Greg Garrett emphasized that the city had nothing to do with the flyer or its distribution.
It's unclear where the flyer was distributed.
“I haven't seen one since (the EDC meeting),” Garrett said. “That was the first and only time.”
Garret said he called Walmart and told them that while it's part of the business to educate people, he asked that “next time they reference the city of Tehachapi to give us a heads up.”
Sacramento-based Amelia Neufeld, Walmart's senior manager for public affairs, said the flyer was not unusual.
“These types of fact sheets we do with every job,” she said. “It gives residents more information to be followed up with the city. It gives residents who support our project things they can do.”
The flyer notes the proposed store's goods and services, location and design, career opportunities for local residents, funds for city services, community benefits and sustainability features. It ends with an appeal for residents to contact the city to express their support.
“There are more than 1,500 supporters we've heard from,” Neufeld said Oct. 21.
“Tehachapi residents are very excited to be able to shop locally and not drive to Bakersfield and about the 300 new jobs it is going to create.”
The project is now nearing the end of the planning stage as consultants tidy up the Environmental Impact Report before it is presented for approval to the Tehachapi Planning Commission some time in December or January.
The Walmart team is making some changes based on city and public input.
“It's wholly in Walmart's lap now,” Garrett said.