California Attorney General Rob Bonta on July 23 filed a lawsuit against the City of Fontana, challenging its approval of the Slover and Oleander Warehouse Project.
The controversial 205,000 square-foot project shares a border with Jurupa Hills High School and is located in one of the most polluted areas in the state, Bonta said.
Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the City of Fontana is required to implement all feasible mitigation measures to reduce harmful air pollution and other significant environmental impacts of the Slover and Oleander Warehouse Project, Bonta said.
In the lawsuit, Bonta claims that the city’s limited environmental review of the project and its failure to appropriately analyze, disclose, and mitigate the project’s environmental impacts violates CEQA.
“Plain and simple: Everyone has the right to breathe clean air where they live and where they work,” said Bonta in a news release. “As Attorney General, I have a responsibility to enforce the state’s environmental laws, and as the People’s Attorney, I am committed to standing up for communities who live at the intersection of poverty and pollution. Fontana residents shouldn't have to choose between economic development and clean air. They deserve both. Unfortunately, the City of Fontana cut corners when it approved the Slover and Oleander Warehouse Project. We’re going to court today to compel the City to go back and take a hard look at the environmental impacts of this project -- and do all it can to mitigate the potential harms to local residents and workers -- before moving forward."
Dozens of neighborhood residents have spoken out against warehouse development at City Council meetings.
The Slover and Oleander Warehouse Project will be constructed in a low-income south Fontana neighborhood that suffers from some of the highest pollution levels in all of California, Bonta said.
The City of Fontana said previously that the project, which was approved by a majority vote of the City Council over the objections of Councilmember Jesse Sandoval, met all the necessary environmental standards and will greatly help the local economy because it will create many jobs.
More than 20 warehouses have already been built within a mile of the project site, in an area that encompasses two public high schools. Collectively, these warehouses generate thousands of daily heavy-duty diesel truck trips. As a result, local residents and workers suffer from some of the highest exposures statewide to fine particulate matter, which are inhalable microscopic particles that travel deep into human lungs and are linked to increased risk of premature death, cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and asthma attacks. They are also heavily exposed to ozone and toxic chemicals that can cause a wide array of other concerning health problems, Bonta said.
The project itself consists of a 205,000 square-foot warehouse with 22 truck docks, 40 truck parking spaces, and 95 standard parking spaces. The warehouse is expected to generate approximately 114 daily truck trips and 272 daily passenger car trips during the project’s round-the-clock operations. In addition, one quarter of the warehouse space is equipped for cold storage, a use that attracts highly-polluting trucks with auxiliary diesel engines needed for refrigeration.
Despite this, the City of Fontana concluded that the project will not have significant environmental impacts and omits mitigation measures such as exceeding green building efficiency standards or using low-emission construction equipment that would reduce the pollution burden to local residents and create additional jobs and improve on-site worker safety, Bonta said.
In the lawsuit, Bonta argues that the City of Fontana violated CEQA in its approval of the Slover and Oleander Warehouse Project by failing to:
• Prepare an environmental impact report despite substantial evidence that the project will have significant environmental impacts;
• Disclose the existence of dozens of other industrial warehouses in the area;
• Disclose that the city has approved and is planning additional warehouse developments within blocks of the project;
• Account for these nearby warehouses in its cumulative air quality analysis; and
• Mitigate all significant environmental impacts of the project.