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Civic Groups Urge Newsom to Declare Moratorium on IE Warehouses

By Manny Otiko | IVN

A group opposed to the growing warehouse industry has taken the fight to the most powerful person in California. A group of 60 civic groups recently sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking him to declare a moratorium on the construction of warehouses in the Inland Empire. 

The Inland Empire has developed a reputation for being a base for the warehouse industry. This means that IE residents see thousands of rows of warehouses dotting the landscape. They also have to deal with the fallout from the warehouse industry, which means roads clogged with trucks and environmental pollution. Because of this, the IE has the most polluted air in the country. And that motivated the letter to Newsom. 

“In the Inland Empire, warehouse growth is one of the most critical environmental justice issues of our time. Our struggles have become a string of losses with human life and health as collateral damage,” according to the letter. 

The letter also stated that economic growth is being achieved at the cost of inland Empire residents’ health. 

“The Inland Empire has the highest concentrations of ozone in the country according to the American Lung Association and CalEnviroScreen 4.0’s most recent report,” according to the letter. “Diesel exhaust is responsible for about 70 percent of the total cancer risk from air pollution; cancer risk is in the 95th percentile near the Ontario warehouse gigacluster– equaling 624 people per million, which is 95% higher than the rest of the basin.” 

In 2021, a research study published in The Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology showed that environmental pollution made IE residents more likely to contact Covid-19. 

“Research shows that inhalation exposure to fine particles and other pollutants leads to increased inflammation in the lungs and the development of asthma. We need more information on the interaction between respiratory health and COVID-19 severity,” said Dr. Sunni Ivey, who was a UCR professor at the time of the study. 

There is also a racial element to the problem since many African Americans and Latinos moved to the IE because of cheaper housing, and now have to deal with the environmental problems caused by the warehousing industry.  

The letter and the appeal to the governor are just the latest battles in the “warehouse wars.” Even as more gigantic buildings pop up, as cities approve more warehouses, local groups have pushed back with attempts to pass bylaws preventing the construction of more warehouses. 

The growth of online commerce drives the warehousing boom through companies such as Amazon. The online retailing giant has several warehouses dotting the Inland Empire and more construction is planned. 

However, not everyone is opposed to warehousing. Many local politicians and civic leaders see the growth in the industry as a positive economic development for the Inland Empire. 

In an opinion piece published by Southern California Newspaper Group, San Bernardino County Supervisor Curt Hagman said anti-warehouse forces are misguided. 

“The Inland Empire plays a critical role in California’s and the nation’s ‘just in time’ delivery system for consumers that are more environmentally friendly and community focused than the rest of the United States,” said Hagman. “Lately, critics have called for warehouse moratoriums or outright bans. Their misguided proposals gloss over the real-world and draconian impact their potential bans would have on supply chains in local communities and the entire region.” 

The Inland Valley News coverage of local news in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support minority-owned-and-operated community newspapers across California.

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