Calif. Sues Fontana to Block Sprawling Warehouse Project in Low-income Area
The lawsuit, filed Friday, July 23 , in San Bernardino Superior Court , claims the city failed to properly review, analyze and mitigate the project's environmental impacts before the City Council rejected an appeal and approved the project at its June 22 meeting, a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act.
More than 20 warehouses already have been built within a mile of the project site at the southwest corner of Slover and Oleander avenues, in the South Fontana district. Those warehouses, according to the attorney general, generate thousands of daily diesel truck trips and expose workers and local residents to high volumes of fine particulate matter that increases the risk of asthma attacks and is linked to myriad illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.
Less than significant impacts
Yet despite that, the city concluded the project would not have any significant environmental impacts on the community before it approved the project.
"Plain and simple: Everyone has the right to breathe clean air where they live and where they work," Bonta said in a statement. " Fontana residents shouldn't have to choose between economic development and clean air. They deserve both. Unfortunately, the City of Fontana cut corners when it approved the Slover and Oleander Warehouse Project ."
The Slover and Oleander Warehouse Facility Project also sits across the street from a low-income residential neighborhood and is in proximity to Citrus High School , Fontana Adult School and Jurupa Hills High School .
Michael Garcia , a spokesman for the Fontana Unified School District , could not be immediately reached for comment.
Monique Carter , a spokeswoman for the city of Fontana , declined to comment on the lawsuit Monday, saying the city does not discuss pending litigation. Representatives from Duke Realty Corp. , which is building the warehouse and is named as a "real party of interest" in the litigation, did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
Duke Realty plans to build a 205,949-square-foot warehouse with 22 truck docks, 40 truck parking spaces and 95 standard parking spaces at the site. The warehouse is expected to generate approximately 114 daily truck trips and 272 daily passenger car trips during the project's round-the-clock operations.
"Truck traffic visiting the project is projected to travel past several residences on Slover Avenue , including the Capri Mobile Estates mobile home park," according to the lawsuit.
Most of the other 20-plus warehouses in the vicinity have been built within the last decade, including three on the northeast corner of Sierra and Santa Ana avenues, two south of Santa Ana Avenue , between Citrus and Oleander avenues, and at least five south of Santa Ana Avenue , between Catawba and Citrus avenues, the lawsuit states.
On April 27 , the city approved another warehouse — the Citrus Avenue and Slover Avenue Warehouse Project — which also borders Jurupa Hills High School , according to the lawsuit.
The state maintains that Fontana failed to disclose the existence of the nearly two dozen other warehouses in the area, and also failed to have an environmental impact report prepared for the project.
"An EIR is required whenever substantial evidence supports a 'fair argument' that the proposed project may have a significant effect on the environment, even if other substantial evidence before the lead agency indicates that the project will not have a significant effect," according to the lawsuit.
The impact of warehouse and trucking industry development in Fontana and the unincorporated area of Bloomington has been a point of contention as residents try to maintain their quality of life.
Bloomington residents and the Colton Joint Unified School District have been fighting trucking industry development on a stretch of Cedar Avenue between Santa Ana and Slover avenues, including a truck fueling station and storage and maintenance yard for up to 260 trucks and trailers.
Bloomington residents were dealt another blow on Thursday, July 22 , when the San Bernardino County Planning Commission approved the truck and trailer storage yard, despite opposition from more than a dozen residents and a school district official.
Their complaints mirror those of the attorney general: the projects were approved without an EIR and ultimately will harm residents and students in the area.
Gary Grossich , vice chairman of the Bloomington Municipal Advisory Committee , said the Fontana project will generate 114 daily truck trips, while the truck and trailer storage yard on Cedar Avenue , which he said will be serving Fontana and Rialto warehouses, is projected to generate 572 daily truck trips, five times more than the Fontana project.
Additionally, the Bloomington projects on Cedar Avenue — the truck fueling station on the southeast corner of Santa Ana and Cedar avenues and the truck and trailer storage yard — are in proximity to five Colton Joint Unified schools, three of them elementary schools.
"Both of them are far more intensive as far as truck traffic," Grossich said. "I think if the AG would be interested in the Fontana project, he'd be interested in these."
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