The Fontana City Council on Nov. 27 amended the city's General Plan to change land use in certain areas, paving the way for two warehouse construction projects.
The increasing number of warehouses being approved for development in Fontana has created some controversy in recent years because some residents are concerned about the potential environmental impacts. However, supporters say the warehouses are good for the local economy.
With a 4-1 vote, the City Council amended the General Plan to change land use of about 32.3 acres of land from general commercial to light industrial for the Seefried Valley and Catawba Warehouse project.
Also, the City Council amended the General Plan to modify land use of about 4.8 acres of land from light industrial to general industrial for the Tamarind Warehouse Distribution project.
Citing concerns with vegetation possibly affecting the sewage lines, City Councilmember Jesse Sandoval cast the "no" vote.
The Seefried Valley and Catawba Warehouse project is located at 15895 Valley Boulevard, on the southwest corner of Valley and Catawba Avenue, immediately north of Interstate 10. According to city staff, the project includes construction and operation of an approximately 376,910 square foot non-refrigerated, “high-cube” logistics warehouse, including associated office spaces of 10,000 square feet.
The building would be a maximum height of 50 feet, and typical daily activities would include operating forklifts and other lift equipment, driving large tractor-trailers throughout the site, and backing trucks into loading docks, all of which emit warning sounds consistent with U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements, added city staff.
The project would provide about 238 parking spaces, including 163 standard parking spaces and 75 trailer truck parking spaces, said city staff. The logistics warehouse building’s truck bays, 54 total, would be oriented to face west toward existing industrial uses, added staff.
Staff said the project meets eight city objectives, including creating a revenue-generating use that capitalizes on nearby transportation corridors; stimulating employment and responding to current market opportunities; concentrating non-residential uses near existing roadways, highways and freeways in an effort to isolate and reduce traffic congestion, air emission and impacts on non-industrial uses; and providing additional temporary and permanent employment opportunities while improving the local and regional job/housing balances.
Meanwhile, the Tamarind Warehouse Distribution project includes building of about 99,999 square feet on a 4.8 acre site located about 1,000 feet south on the intersection of Slover Avenue and Tamarind.
According to city staff, this project also meets the city’s objectives to facilitate the goods movement for the benefit of local and regional economic growth.
Fontana resident Allen Hernandez, the executive director at the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ), said the group is disappointed that the City of Fontana continues to prioritize land for warehouse development while not considering the negative impacts they bring to the region.
“Irresponsible land use decisions lead to severe impacts on the respiratory health of residents, and it’s frustrating to see the City Council turning a blind eye again,” said Hernandez. “We are also concerned that the areas where these projects are slated to be built are in and next to identified disadvantaged communities. Fontana’s General Plan now requires they improve communities overburdened by poor air quality. By approving these projects, the city is acting in bad faith and going against the purpose of their environmental justice element.”
Hernandez added that claims that warehouses bring economic prosperity are ironic considering the current data available. In fact, a study released on Nov. 27, the same day the City Council approved the projects, by the University of California Riverside Center for Social Innovation indicates that the logistics industry is failing to provide livable wages for warehouse workers.
“Despite these facts, city officials continue to rely on an industry that is not providing the returns that they are promising,” he added.