WA AG Bob Ferguson's office says they've reached a settlement with Albertsons over a former grocery store location, which created a 'food desert' in Bellingham.

   Albertson's had closed a store six years ago

The AG's office says the grocery store chain has removed illegal land restrictions that prohibited another store from opening on their former property in the Birchwood neighborhood of Bellingham.

When the store closed in 2018, the AG's office says Albertsons left provisions in place prohibiting competing stores from opening until 2038.  The AG's office says this created what they called a "food desert."

According to information from the AG's Office:

"By creating these illegal restrictions, Albertsons ensured that a competitor could not open a grocery store in this neighborhood. Shoppers had no choice but to travel to other stores farther away, including a Haggen the company owned a few miles away.

This effectively created a food desert in the neighborhood, defined as an area with limited access to affordable and nutritious food."

    According to Google Maps, the Birchwood Neighborhood is barely over 1.5 miles 'tall" from north to south, and about 1.25 to 1.3 miles wide east to west. A look at businesses displayed on the map shows within, or near the edge, of the neighborhood, there is a Big Lots, a 7-11, a meat market,  a marine market (grocery), and a bakery, just to name a few. Most of these entities are not on the outer edges of the neighborhood, a number of them are within one to three blocks walking distance of much of the area.

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The AG's office says Albertsons has since removed the restrictions and is also having to pay $25K to cover the AG's legal fees. Information released by the AG's office indicates they say it is a predominantly lower-income area.

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