SANTA MARIA, Calif. -

After a lengthy public comment period, Santa Maria City Council members voted 4 to 1 to approve a Downtown Specific Plan Development Review Permit for Fallas.

That means National Stores, Inc., can open a Fallas store in the vacant Mervyn's location at the Town Center West shopping center.

Mayor Pro Tem Bob Orach explained how his feeling changed after visiting several stores.  A store inside a former K-Mart in Bakersfield did not impress him, but a store in San Jose showed what a flagship store could be.

Fallas employees commented, too. They said they liked working for the company that carried name brands at discount prices.

But Mayor Alice Patino said she still doesn't believe it will draw shoppers from around the region.

Supporters said shoppers will either prove the mayor right or wrong.

Fallas Chief Financial Officers Sandy Menichelle said the stores will be ready to open in 60 days. 

With approval in place the company can start hiring as many as 100 full and part time workers.