County Planning Commission OK With Bloomington Truck Terminal

Over substantial community opposition, the San Bernardino County Planning Commission on Thursday, July 22 recommended that the county board of supervisors give approval to a truck terminal project proposed by developers David Wiener and Scott Beard to be located at 10746 Cedar Cedar Avenue in Bloomington.
The proposed development is located on a 9-acre parcel slightly north and across the street from a truck stop proposed by Nachhattar Chandi on the southeast corner of Cedar and Santa Ana avenues that was approved by the board of supervisors in April.
There were 14 Bloomington residents who spoke before the commission in opposition to the project and 126 letters of concern or opposition to the truck terminal project received by the county’s land use services department prior to the hearing.
Nevertheless, the planning commission entered a 3-to-1 decision to endorse the project, with Commissioner Kareem Gongora dissenting and Commissioner Raymond Allard recusing himself.
Bloomington is a 6.01-square mile unincorporated community with 25,482 residents, bounded by Rialto on its east and northeast sides, Fontana on its west and north west sides and the Riverside County line on its south side. Traditionally, Bloomington has been an agricultural community which has over the last 60 years transitioned into a heavily used transportation corridor because of four major east west arterials that traverse it – Valley Blvd, Slover Avenue, Jurupa Avenue and Santa Ana Avenue, all of which lead to or toward Ontario International Airport, as well as the I-10 Freeway and the Santa Fe/Burlington Northern/Union Pacific rail line. The community is saturated with over one hundred illegal truck-related operations. Simultaneously, the county has been permitting trucking-related operations and warehouses to be built within the community, while Fontana and Rialto have given approval to trucking related concerns and warehouses at the periphery of Bloomington.
Thus, a significant segment of Bloomington residents find themselves in a struggle against local government and elements within the community itself pushing toward reinventing the unincorporated town into a transit center. Those residents are at a distinct disadvantage, given their individual and collective lack of wherewithal in taking on more the sophisticated and more economically enabled entities with an financial incentive in seeing that transition take place.
Available demographic and financial information simultaneously paints Bloomington residents, as a whole, as among the most impoverished and the least well-educated and sophisticated of San Bernardino County’s 2.2 million residents. Roughly 81 percent of Bloomington’s population is Hispanic or Latino, with 14.1 percent non-Hispanic Caucasian, 2.7 percent African American, 1.2 percent Native American, and 1.4 percent Asian. The median household income in Bloomington was $34,106 in 2018 and the median family income was $35,936. Single men living there had a median income of $30,680 versus $20,606 for single woman. About 19.8 percent of families and 25.3 percent of the population fall below the poverty line. Over 20 percent of the population is not fluent in English.
Those Bloomington residents resisting the move toward constructing more and more trucking-oriented developments in their midst are in need of a champion willing to carry that fight into the court system.
After the Chandi truck stop project was given approval by the board of supervisors in April, it so happened that the Colton Joint Unified School District did emerge to file suit against the county contesting the approval of that undertaking, putting it on hold until the litigation is resolved.
It is unclear at this point, however, whether the school district or another entity, such as the Sierra Club or the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, will carry the burden of engaging in litigation to contest the approval of the truck terminal project if the board of supervisors follows the recommendation made by the planning commission yesterday.
Previously, the county and Anthony DeLuca, a senior planner in the county department of land use services who is processing the project application, referred to the proposal as a truck terminal. At this point, the county is referring to it as a “trailer storage” yard. This effort to minimize the intensity of the operation appears to be an indication that the project will be given approval when it comes before the board of supervisors, most likely in August or September.
There have been hints but no explicit acknowledgement that the project is to be the eventual headquarters/regional office/operating yard for a trucking company. The facility would provide storage for trailers during delivery off-seasons and/or between deliveries, and would run seven days a week and 24 hours a day, with an average of more than 700 truck trips into or out of the terminal daily. The project is to include 275 parking spaces in total, 260 spaces of which will be 12 feet by 55 feet. The proposed project includes a 2,400 square-foot building for office use and storage, an approximate 250 square-foot guard shack, and a 4,800 square-foot maintenance shop with four repair bays.
The county is using a mitigated negative declaration to provide the project with its environmental certification, rather than a more comprehensive environmental impact report.
A full scale environmental impact report is the most intensive form of environmental certification, involving a study of the project site, the project proposal, the potential and actual impacts the project will have on the site and surrounding area in terms of all conceivable issues, including land use, water use, air quality, potential contamination, noise, traffic, biological and cultural resources, as well as health impacts on individuals living or working in proximity to the project. An environmental impact report specifies in detail what measures can, will and must be carried out to offset those impacts.
A mitigated negative declaration is a far less exacting size-up of the impacts of a project than an environmental impact report, involving the panel entrusted with a community’s ultimate land use authority, in this case the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, considering an initial study of the project completed by county staff and thereafter issuing a declaration that all adverse environmental impacts from the project will be mitigated, or offset, by the conditions of approval of the project imposed upon the developer.
A potential issue that could be exploited in legal action taken against the county for approving the project is that it failed to carry out a more exacting form of environmental certification.
That Commissioner Kareem Gongora voted against recommending project approval might have some significance. Gongora is an appointee of Fifth District Supervisor Joe Baca Jr. Bloomington lies within the Fifth District. Whether or not Gongora’s vote reflects how Baca will come down on the issue remains to be seen. In many cases, with regard to development proposals, the supervisors defer to the judgment of the supervisor in whose district that particular project is located. Under normal circumstances, the entire board will follow the lead of a supervisor who either supports or opposes a project within his/her district. In this case, however, the remainder of the board might not be inclined to support Baca in his decision if he opposes the truck terminal, since both Wiener and Beard have been major donors to the political war chests of the remaining supervisors: Curt Hangman, Janice Rutherford, Dawn Rowe and Paul Cook.
Planning Commissioner Raymond Allard did not cast a vote on the recommendation because, he said, he had performed engineering work for Wiener and Beard on other projects they are engaged in.
-Mark Gutglueck

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