California Attorney General Rob Bonta on April 18 announced an agreement with the city of Fontana regarding a controversial warehouse project located near the Jurupa Hills High School.
After the project was approved by the City Council, Bonta filed a lawsuit last summer. The solution will now allow the project to move forward, but under stricter conditions.
Bonta said the settlement, which will have repercussions across the state, was created to protect vulnerable communities from pollution related to industrial development.
The deal, once entered into by the court, will resolve allegations that the city of Fontana has violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in approving the Slover and Oleander warehouse project in southern Fontana.
Duke Realty developers will be required to adopt significant mitigation measures to minimize the project impacts on the surrounding community.
“For years, warehouse development in Fontana went unchecked and it is our most vulnerable communities who have paid the price,” Bonta said. “Residents of the South Fountain do not have to choose between economic opportunities and clean air. They deserve both. Today’s solution shows how innovative solutions can be used to address environmental injustices without hindering development. Because when we build, we have to build responsibly.
“Most importantly, the impact of this solution is not limited to mitigating the impact of a single project. As a result of our lawsuit, the city of Fontana has adopted the strictest environmental standards in California for new warehouse projects. This ordinance “It should serve as a model to build on other local governments across the state. We need to ensure that future development does not repeat the mistakes of the past.”
During a press conference, Bonta praised Mary Ann Ruiz, president of the Sierra Club San Gorgonio Chapter, and Elizabeth Sena, an activist from Fontana, for their determination in seeking environmental justice.
“For more than a decade, Sierra Club volunteers have challenged warehouse developments across San Bernardino and Riverside counties, resulting in mitigation and community benefits, including three previous lawsuits in Fontana,” Ruiz said. “The difference this time was the voice of the community., Led by Liz Sena and the South Fontana Concerned Citizens Coalition, gaining the attention of Attorney General Bonta. We appreciate the partnership and leadership of the AG office in reaching this agreement to improve the project and to set a standard for all future Fontana projects. “
Sena said she was disappointed the project would be allowed to continue, but was nonetheless grateful for Bonta’s interest in the issue.
“For years, Fontana residents have expressed their concerns about the increase in air pollution associated with increased warehouse development, but have been ignored,” Sena said. “And for this reason, the Coalition of Citizens Concerned by the South Fontana recognizes the leadership and partnership of Attorney General Bonta in filing a lawsuit against the city of Fontana. The settlement is the first of its kind and will help protect us by minimizing the impact of future depots surrounding our community, where our families live, learn and work. ”
Over the past five years, Fontana has approved several dozen warehouses with a total area of about 16 million square feet in the southern Fontana alone.
Slover and Oleander Warehouse is a 205,000-square-foot project located in a low-income neighborhood that suffers from some of the highest levels of pollution in all of California, Bonta said.
On July 23, 2021, Bonta filed a lawsuit against Fontana challenging its approval of this project. Bonta argued that the city’s limited environmental review of the project and its failure to properly analyze, disclose, and mitigate the project’s environmental impacts violated CEQA. The Sierra Club separately filed a lawsuit and the April 18 settlement resolves both cases.
Bonta said the solution requires the City of Fontana to adopt the strictest warehouse ordinance in the state, with dozens of new requirements for warehouse projects in its jurisdiction. These include location designs to keep trucks away from sensitive areas such as schools, hospitals and day care, promoting zero-emission vehicles for field operations, landscaping buffers, installing solar panels to meet 100 percent of energy needs for a larger warehouse. projects and the use of environmentally friendly building materials.
The ordinance also includes a range of provisions to boost economic development and protect the health and safety of construction workers, warehouse workers and truckers, Bonta said.
The solution also requires Duke Realty to implement new measures to mitigate the environmental impacts of the Slover and Oleander warehouse project on the surrounding community. Mitigation measures include design changes and other protections for nearby residents, reducing emissions from equipment used during construction and operation, solar energy and more.
Duke Realty will also set up a $ 210,000 community benefit fund, which will be used to upgrade landscaping reserves at Jurupa Hills High School and purchase and distribute a five-year supply of high-quality air filters up to to 1,750 families in the surrounding community.
In addition, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) has announced a process to review its CEQA guideline for analyzing cumulative air quality impacts. Bonta’s lawsuit challenged Fontana’s support of existing SCAQMD guidelines in approving the Slover and Oleander project. SCAQMD staff has proposed a new approach to new guidelines that would consider existing loads associated with nearby pollution sources and, where justified, quantify for the first time cumulative air quality impacts and effects in human health. This approach would not only address the shortcomings in its current guidelines, but would also consider the impacts of concentrating polluting land uses, such as warehouse projects, on disadvantaged areas, thus encouraging local governments to decide future projects in areas where they will have the least impact on human health, Bonta said.
In response to the settlement, the city of Fontana issued this statement:
“Air quality and responsible development have long been a priority of the Fontana City Council. In September 2021, the council ordered a thorough air quality analysis. Following science, the council approved the Industrial Trade Center Sustainability Standards Ordinance , which is one of the most environmentally friendly in California and ensures that all industrial development within the city exceeds all federal and state environmental standards for warehouses and freight operations. “
“We agree with Attorney General Bonta – this ordinance should serve as a model for other local governments across the state. We are proud to be on the road once again,” said Mayor Acquanetta Warren.
Attorney General Bonta announces settlement with City of Fontana in regard to controversial warehouse project | News Source link Attorney General Bonta announces settlement with City of Fontana in regard to controversial warehouse project | News