The Empire Network has a new public-powered reporting project to connect with our community to get story questions. On The Inland, we’re asking you to tell us what we should investigate next. What do you wonder about the Inland, its people and culture? With the midterm elections around the corner, we’re focusing on your questions about politics and elections.
What is the breakdown of candidates for office who support and oppose warehouse growth as an economic strategy for the region? — Anonymous listener from Riverside.
The Inland Empire is one of the largest hubs for massive warehouses in the nation. Major Southern California freeways run right through the Inland Empire- the 10, 15, and the 60. Not far from both the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and nearby several international airports, products from all over the world are distributed right here in our backyard. But for some, that’s just the problem. There are residents who don’t want warehouses popping up in residential areas, increasing pollution and traffic congestion near schools and homes. Others are eager to see a boost in the economy as more jobs become available for residents of the Inland Empire.
An anonymous listener from Riverside asked The Inland which candidates for office support and oppose warehouse growth as an economic strategy for the region. It’s a topic that’s being brought up in cities across the Inland Empire.
Hearing on Bloomington Warehouse
On August 21, residents of Bloomington gathered at the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors meeting to discuss the proposed construction of a 334,000 square foot warehouse on 17.34 acres of residential land. Over 40 public speakers shared their views with the Board of Supervisors, as well as representatives for candidates who were in opposition. The public hearing resumed on Tuesday, September 25, continuing the conversation and ultimately voting 4-1 in favor of the Bloomington rezoning and warehouse construction.
Third District Supervisor and Board Member for the County of San Bernardino James Ramos (D-San Bernardino) was the only one on the Board to vote against the construction of the warehouse. He voiced his concerns about health conditions and air pollution brought on by the trucks and cited uncertainty regarding the proposed revenue the project would bring in.
Area State Senator Candidates Vary in Opposition
State Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino), along with Assemblymember Eloise Reyes (D-Grand Terrace) have been urging residents to oppose the construction of more warehouses in residential areas. In an Op-Ed for the Inland Empire Community News, Levya and Reyes wrote, “We believe that they do not belong immediately adjacent to homes or schools where the health impacts would be most damaging and long lasting to children and families.” They state that while the Inland Empire is one of the nation's largest warehouse hubs, “We still have the lowest per capita income in the state of California,” making the argument that economic outcomes have not reflected what has been proposed.
In a statement to KVCR, Candidate Matthew Munson (R-Chino), who is running for the 20th State Senate District in the upcoming elections against Leyva, said, “Due to us being close to the ports, it leads to growth in warehouses and that is understandable. However people in my district are not as enthusiastic about this growth. I support a modest reduction so we could build housing. We need a diversification of industry so we are not reliant on the warehouse sector for growth in our economy and employment.”
San Bernardino Mayoral Candidates Support Expansion
Incumbent San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis and opponent Councilman John Valdivia both support warehouse growth. Mayor Davis told The Atlantic that he’s seen a number of benefits since Amazon first opened a warehouse in the city of San Bernardino, such as the company contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars to local schools and charities. He said, “Amazon has been a very good neighbor and private partner for the city of San Bernardino.” Councilman Valdivia lists his involvement in expanding a local Amazon fulfillment facility in an effort to create more jobs as one of his notable achievements.
Area Congressional Candidates Vary in Support
Representative Pete Aguilar (D-San Bernardino) worked at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in San Bernardino, packing and sorting orders alongside employees as part of his Job for a Day Tour of the Inland Empire. He said the experience connected him with hard-working residents and allowed him to learn more about the business. In a press release, he said, “While the Inland Empire economy has been slow to recover from the Great Recession, Amazon has played a major part in our recovery by providing thousands of jobs for our residents.”
Republican congressional candidate Sean Flynn (R-Redlands), who’s challenging Rep. Aguilar for the 31st Congressional seat told KVCR in a statement, “Warehouses bring some jobs and some growth, but if you want to see a lot more high-paying jobs being created locally, we will need to build the infrastructure and buildings that firms in high-paying industries need. For example, the sort of office buildings that a 100-employee accounting firm would want to move into.”
It’s clear that there are varying views and arguments being brought up about warehouse growth in this region, and it’s bound to be a popular subject for quite some time. Support and opposition are mixed when it comes to the candidates in the Inland Empire, but opinions are strong. To make your voice heard on the issue of warehouse expansion and other matters that impact the community, remember to vote this November 6th.
Learn more about where to vote for the midterm elections and visit vote.org.
To view the San Bernardino Board of Supervisors Meetings, you can visit: http://www.sbcounty.gov/Main/Pages/ViewMeetings.aspx
If you have a question about the upcoming midterm elections, ask The Inland! You ask, we put your questions up for a vote, the public decides which topic we should investigate, and then we go out and report back with answers. So what are you waiting for? Get curious!