Mayor Warren Chalks Up Another Warehouse, This One In South Fontana

In what was seen as an indicator of whether recently-elected Fontana City Councilman Peter Garcia would show independence from Mayor Acquanetta Warren, the Fontana City Council on April 27 approved the development of a nearly 200,000-square-foot warehouse in south Fontana.
Warehouse development in Fontana has become a controversial issue in 217,237-population Fontana over the last several years. Warren, who has been mayor since 2010, has embraced warehouses as a pathway to economic development in the blue collar city, to the point that she has earned the sobriquet “Warehouse Warren.” She has made a case that Fontana’s location on the West Coast not too distant from the Port of Los Angeles and near the confluence of the I-10, I-15 and 210 freeways, together with its proximity to Ontario International Airport and the advantage of rail lines that run through the city make it an ideal host for warehousing. Warehouses will provide jobs for unskilled and under-educated city inhabitants, Warren maintains.
Opponents to the proliferation of warehouses in the Inland Empire and particularly in Fontana cite relatively poor pay and benefits provided to those who work in them, the large diesel-powered semi-trucks that frequent them with their unhealthy exhaust emissions together with the bane of traffic gridlock they create.
Warren’s critics say she is less interested in the economic development and job creation warehouses represent than the hefty political donations their proponents provide her.
Warren is an entrenched Republican Party political boss, who commands the unquestioning loyalty of councilmen John Roberts and Phil Cothran, Jr., both Republicans. Her former ally, Councilman Jesse Armendarez, another Republican, gave up his council seat last year to vie, unsuccessfully, it turned out, for Fifth District county supervisor. In the November election, Warren endorsed Peter Garcia, a member of the Fontana School
Board who had been a member of the Fontana Planning Commission from 2009 to 2016.
Garcia emerged victorious. Despite Garcia having been endorsed by Warren, there was a question as to whether he would go along with her headlong pursuit of ever more warehouses in the city. Professionally, Garcia is a scientist with the California Environmental Protection Agency. At present, he is the Southern California regional executive manager for the Department of Toxic Substances Control’s Site Mitigation Program, in which capacity he is responsible for protecting human health and the environment from hazardous substance-contaminated properties throughout California. He has a bachelor of science degree in biological sciences from Loyola Marymount University,.
Some of Warren’s opponents hoped that Garcia would defy Warren’s expectation that he would go along with her agenda of allowing transportation intensive warehousing to spring up at all order of locations around the 42.4-square mile city.
As it turned out on Tuesday night, however, those people were disappointed,
Over the objections of more than 30 citizens who weighed in against the project during the public comment portion of the meeting, Warren, Roberts, Cothran and Garcia voted to approve the plans for the 194,212-square-foot logistics and distribution facility, together with a restaurant on 8.68 acres at the southeast corner of Slover and Citrus avenues, directly north of Jurupa Hills High School and south of the Interstate 10 Freeway.
Opponents of the project believed that Garcia, as a former school board member, would prove receptive to concerns expressed by the Fontana Unified School District relating to the hazards such a facility would represent to the school and students there. That turned out not to be the case.
Councilmember Jesse Sandoval, a Democrat who vied against but lost to Warren in the 2018 mayoral race but was reelected to the city council in 2020, was the sole vote against the warehouse project.
Project proponent David Wiener, who had previously pursued developing the site into a shopping center, shifted to the warehouse concept after being unable to convince a major supermarket chain to become his tenant there..
-Mark Gutglueck

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