Fontana, state attorney general settle suit over warehouse project

Inland Empire city to pass “stringent” ordinance to apply to 206K sf project by Duke Realty

Los Angeles /
Apr.April 19, 2022 02:23 PM
 California Attorney General Rob Bonta with the Oleander avenues warehouse project (Getty, Cornerstone)
California Attorney General Rob Bonta with the Oleander avenues warehouse project (Getty, Cornerstone)

The developer behind a 206,000-square-foot warehouse approved by Fontana must soon adhere to “the most stringent warehouse ordinance in the state,” according to a recent legal settlement.

The agreement between California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the Inland Empire city requires Fontana to pass the law, which would apply to the proposed warehouse project and similar industrial developments, the Riverside Press Enterprise reported.

As a result of the pact, Indianapolis-based developer Duke Realty must implement substantial mitigation measures during and after construction of its distribution warehouse at Slover and Oleander avenues. The warehouse, to be located next to a high school and across the street from a low-income neighborhood in South Fontana, is expected to generate 114 round-the-clock truck trips a day

Duke Realty will pay $210,000 into a community benefits fund, with $160,000 of that going to buy five years worth of top-rated air filters for up to 1,750 nearby households. Another $50,000 will go to Jurupa Hills High School to bolster landscaping buffers.

The Duke warehouse was the subject of a state lawsuit last summer that claimed Fontana failed to properly review, analyze and mitigate the project’s environmental impacts before city leaders rejected an appeal and approved the building a violation of state environmental law.

More than 20 warehouses have been built within a mile of the project site, and thousands of daily diesel truck trips to the various facilities expose workers and residents to fine particulate matter that increases the risk of asthma attacks, and is linked to myriad illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.

Yet the city concluded the warehouse wouldn’t have any significant environmental impacts on the community. The Sierra Club, an environmental group, also took legal action over the decision.

At a news conference in Downtown Los Angeles, Bonta called the settlement “innovative” in the way it addresses environmental injustices in warehouse development – and not just in the Inland Empire. It’s “a win for everyone,” he said.

“We are in agreement with Attorney General Bonta,” Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren said in a statement. “This ordinance should serve as a model for other local governments across the State.”

In addition to the ordinance adopted by Fontana, the South Coast Air Quality Management District will revise its California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, guidance for analyzing cumulative air quality impacts, Bonta said.

Such a revision would require cities to consider nearby pollution sources when weighing projects – namely warehouses – in disadvantaged areas. This would encourage city leaders to find new places for such projects to minimize impacts on residents’ health.

Increasing truck traffic from a growing number of distribution warehouses that serve the booming e-commerce market has also spawned a state bill that would keep them away from homes.

[Riverside Press-Enterprise] – Dana Bartholomew





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