California Law Advances to Keep Warehouses Away From Homes

California’s State Assembly has passed a bill that would require new warehouses with footprints of 100K SF or larger in the Inland Empire to be built at least 1,000 feet away from residential properties or schools.

The bill as originally drafted would have applied to the entire state, but it was scaled back to apply only to San Bernardino and Riverside counties, which together comprise the Inland Empire, which stretches from the Los Angeles city limits to the Arizona border.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has not indicated whether he would sign the bill if it passes the California State Senate.

The Assembly member representing San Bernardino County, Eloise Gomez Reyes, who wrote the bill restricting the locations of Inland Island warehouses, said in a speech on the floor of the state legislature that her bill will establish “reasonable standards to protect communities while at the same time allowing commerce to flourish.”

Industrial space has been filled to capacity in the Inland Empire since the beginning of the year. With little available space in the western half of the region for new large warehouses, new industrial development is pushing eastward, encountering stiff NIMBY resistance from residents who don’t want the congested truck traffic from logistics facilities in their neighborhoods.

Moratoriums on new warehouse development have been introduced this year for city council votes in Chino, Colton, Jurupa Valley, Perris, Riverside and San Bernardino. The City of Redlands unanimously recommended in March that the city place a moratorium on new warehouse developments.

Dermody Properties, which purchased a 54.4-acre site in Ontario, CA in January for a new 1M SF industrial warehouse, issued a statement describing the site as “one of the last remaining parcels of land in the Inland Empire West that is capable of supporting a building over one million square feet.” Dermody also developed the 1.1-million-square-foot LogistiCenter in Eastvale, CA.

Large industrial warehouses now are proliferating eastward through the San Gorgonio Pass and into the Coachella Valley along Interstate 10. Two proposed projects would bring 3.1 million square feet of new logistics space to Banning and Beaumont, neighboring cities in the Pass that straddle I-10. 

Residents of the retirement community in Sun Lake, CA, a few miles north of Banning, have put up billboards along I-10 featuring a red stop sign and the slogan “Stop the Banning Warehouse! No more truck traffic, pollution and noise,” GlobeSt reported. 

Facing opposition from environmentalists concerned about the impact to air quality and desert resources, Transwestern Development Co. withdrew an application it made last year to the Palm Springs Planning Commission to build the Eastern Empire Fulfillment Center on a 148-acre site south of I-10 in Whitewater, CA.

Even before the unprecedented demand for industrial space in the Inland Empire reached all-time-high levels late last year, the region already had a reputation for the worst air quality in the US.

Last year, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, whose jurisdiction includes the Inland Empire, issued a rule requiring warehouse operators within the district to take specific actions to offset emissions from truck traffic, including by installing solar panels.