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Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren Discusses New Proposed Industrial Ordinance

Official portrait of Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren
City of Fontana
Official portrait of Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren

KVCR's Jonathan Linden spoke with Fontana Mayor Aquennetta Warren about the city proposing a new ordinance that would create greater environmental protections around the warehouse industry.

This is a word-for-word transcript of the first nine minutes of conversation between KVCR's Jonathan Linden and Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren.

Jonathan Linden: You're listening to 91.9 KVCR News, and I'm Jonathan Linden. Earlier this month, the city of Fontana announced that they would consider creating an ordinance that would put more environmental protections around the warehouse industry. I'm joined now by the mayor of Fontana, Acquanetta Warren, to discuss the proposed ordinance. To start, Mayor Warren, could you give me a general overview of the ordinance and what you're trying to achieve?

Acquanetta Warren: Basically, what we're doing is we're proposing is, we're calling it industrial commerce center sustainability standard ordinance. And what we did was look at all the local, state, and federal laws and put them in one spot and say, If you want to do business in this town and you want to bring industrial. These are the standards we expect you to bring to the table. Now they have not been approved yet, we get that, but we are starting that discussion, and we're going to be floating it out to all of our stakeholders and partners and community so that everybody got everybody gets to have a say we're going to have public hearings. The hearing is being held but our planning commission, and then when it comes to the council final approval, people get up to the weigh-in there. But it's just one of the ways based on what we're trying to show, we strategically trying to decrease, you know, greenhouse emissions in the air toxics. Try our best to get to that environmentally friendly community that we know we already are. And we could do better.

Jonathan Linden: So, Mayor, I have read, I've read the press release and the points that you all made that you're hoping this will achieve, like requiring a landscaping buffer. Can you tell listeners more about some of the other requirements that you're looking to have?

Acquanetta Warren: Okay. Well, the landscape buffer is just not landscape, but we're talking about more trees. We know that the canopies and the right that the trees make a big difference. The other part of this is the idling restrictions for the diesel engines. We want to make it 40 percent more stringent than the five-minute idling restriction that the Cal Air Resources Board adopted. That's major. And then, we want a requirement that the on-site motorized operational equipment be zero emissions. And a lot of those technologies are in progress or may already have been developed.

Jonathan Linden: And I'm sure you're aware of a lot of the criticism that the city has taken as it pertains to warehousing. I spoke with someone from the South Fontana Concerned Citizen Coalition, and they made a statement about this was your way of trying to change the narrative and put a positive spin on things. What is your response to that?

Acquanetta Warren: Well, my response to that is that's too bad that they feel that way because, in all honesty, we are trying our best to accommodate all the concerns that we receive. That's what we do. And those people out there that know me, well, know problem-solving this what I do. And we feel strongly that if we can start this process with this ordinance and all the other quality of life issues that we're trying to improve, I think we're onto something. And the rhetoric that they claim this is we've already shown we did that air quality study, and we did it with a company that was highly reputable. And in that study, the study showed that we were on to progress. But it did tell us that we need to do more, and this is a result of that action to do more. Now what they don't like is that I'm sure they don't want to see people coming to the table, maybe to get these issues resolved. We can all jump up and down and come to the meetings clowning, you know, you can bring people and promise them gift cards for showing up and screaming at us. But that's not what gets things resolved. So we're trying to do a resolution here.

Jonathan Linden: And just a few weeks ago, the L.A. Times released a story about how Jurupa Hills High School in Fontana has seen a large increase in warehousing around the school in the past ten years; according to the report, there are about 20 warehouses around the school. What is your response to people who think that's something to be concerned about?

Acquanetta Warren: You know, what's interesting is the real issue is why did the school build there when they knew those areas were planned for warehousing, they knew that? And they built anyway. They didn't feel that it was a concern to stop them from building because, you know, you don't make a plan for a school without looking around a vacant lot that around that school. So they were fully aware when they built the school. And then it comes to people owning that land. And wanting to do something for property rights that they want to do with their land. So I think the response that I have is that maybe it wasn't a good idea for the schools to have been built there in the first place. But what we have done is take every potential issue relative to the state, I mean, local, state, and federal requirements, to make sure we keep everyone safe. But what's interesting to me, and I know nobody probably wants to hear this, is they continually say we're creating problems in the environment, but yet we are surrounded by freeways. Fontana has the unique experience of being surrounded by the ten freeway, the 15, some of the 60, and the 210, and warehouses are not just in the South. That's what they always say that all the warehouses down here, I live off the Cherry between Baseline and Foothill. There are warehouses over there, too. There are warehouses on Sierra; there are warehouses on Foothill, warehouses on Valley. There are warehouses around our community. So I think they're going to have to come up with another reason not to come to the table and see how we can do better because we have that area planned out years and years ago. Our general plan is that the schools still decided to go around and build these schools there, and we made sure like I said, we try to work with everybody making sure that all issues are taken care of.

Jonathan Linden: And so this plan, this ordinance that the city is proposing. You're saying this is the city's trajectory in trying to make things better for the environment and make warehousing more friendly to the city?

Acquanetta Warren: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, these places are built, right? They're already built, more released out. But going forward, we want to make sure, like I said, we did that air quality study, and it's that, you know, these are the facts. But you can do better. So that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to make sure all the audience is put in one spot. So when people come in with their application, this is what you're going to have to follow if you expect to do this type of activity. The other part that I think is lost in this conversation, and I'm I saw that (L.A. Times) thing, but you know, you've got Spectrum, you got L.A. Times. But do we ever expect them to come to the Inland Empire period and do any article that say we're doing things right out here? Personally, it just doesn't happen. They only come out here when your issue and they sensationalize things, but they don't look at us. You know, they want like Spectrum wants everybody subscribe to their cable service, but they have one time to come and say, You know, we like this week as our Christmas. They won't be there... They don't want to hear that. They want to stay out. Here is a terrible place to live, but yet our crime is lower. We're trying our best to do things better to improve the quality of life of all of our citizens. So I don't expect, I guess, those type of advertising places to even look at us in a different light. They just can't do it. They haven't. But at the same time, we're in the area where we needed to provide jobs, and we were able to, you know, get these jobs out here, which kind of got people off the freeway. But nobody wants to talk about that, people, when they first moved out here a couple of years back. They were driving one hour, one way or more to get to work. And then their quality of life wasn't that great because they were spending all their time on the freeway, which was creating more emission problems. And then people don't, I go to the some of the schools sometimes, and I just watch all the cars where they're not regulated like the trucks are. They're allowed to stay in line, two or three hundred cars, in front of these schools, and they're dropping off and picking up twice a day, or maybe three times a day. But we're trying our best to look at our situation and see how can we make it better. And we're we're doing that out of sincerity, and this is something that I'm proud of. I'm proud that we're doing this ordinance. I think my colleagues are, too, because we're doing more than just lip service. We're actually pulling all this information together and doing it the correct way, and making sure. And the other problem is when we have these applications come in, a lot of times they don't know who the tenants are going to be. And Fontana is a huge hub for manufacturing. The majority of these warehouses are not distribution. A lot of them are manufactured. And does anybody believe a made in America anymore?

Jonathan Linden was a reporter at 91.9 KVCR in San Bernardino, California. He joined KVCR in July 2021 and served with the station till October 2022.