Warehouse Moratorium In County Seat Falls One Vote Short

As was anticipated, the San Bernardino City Council Wednesday night, June 2, fell one vote short of imposing an initial 45-day moratorium on the permitting of new warehouse construction in the county seat.
Since 2015, 26 warehouse projects have been processed and approved by the City of San Bernardino, entailing acreage under roof of 9,598,255 square feet, or more than one-third of a square mile, translating into 220.34 acres.
For more than a decade, there has been considerable warehouse development throughout San Bernardino County, particularly in San Bernardino and Fontana. Southern California, which involves large port facilities in San Pedro and Long Beach, lands massive amounts of merchandise from manufacturers in Asia brought across the Pacific Ocean by ship. That cargo is offloaded onto trains and trucks and distributed throughout much of the country. In this way the Inland Empire has become a major logistics center.
Nevertheless, with more and more land locally being consumed by warehouses and distribution centers, some have begun to second guess the wisdom of allotting so much property, which could be used for other purposes, for the building of warehouses.
San Bernardino Fifth Ward Councilman Benjamin Reynoso has long questioned whether warehouses constitute the highest and best use of the property available for development in the city. He cites the 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 in refuting the assertions of their sponsors and proponents that warehouses constitute positive economic development.
Last month, Reynoso floated the concept of putting a 45-day moratorium on warehouse approval in place, which could be extended for as long as two years, while San Bernardino revamps its general plan, determining how much more warehousing, if any, the city wants to accommodate.
To impose a moratorium on any specific type of building, however, California law requires that such a ban be passed by a four-fifths vote of a governmental entity’s legislative body. In San Bernardino, where the mayor is not empowered to vote, that means that six of the seven members of the council had to sign off on the moratorium. Third Ward Councilman Juan Figueroa, a firm and fast political ally of Mayor John Valdivia, was unwilling to support a moratorium because Valdivia is heavily supported by warehouse developers, who have made major donations to Valdivia’s political war chest. Likewise, Fourth Ward Councilman Fred Shorett, who has built his political career by professing to be pro-development and has been the recipient of money from the development community, was unwilling to support a moratorium.
Thus, though Reynoso had solid majority support of First Ward Councilman Ted Sanchez, Second Ward Councilwoman Sandra Ibarra, Sixth Ward Councilwoman Kimberly Calvin and Seventh Ward Councilman Damon Alexander, he did not have the requisite political muscle to achieve the six council votes to impose the warehouse moratorium.

Leave a Reply