California’s warehouse boom faces pushback from local communities

Date: Monday, April 26th, 2021
Source: Supply Chain Dive

The Upland, California, Planning Commission is considering limits on warehouse size, truck hours and volumes to manage the spread of logistics and industrial development in the predominantly residential city.

Upland is only one city dealing with the seemingly insatiable demand for new logistics space located closer to customers.

Driven by the growth of e-commerce, warehouse demand exceeded supply in Q4 of 2020 and early 2021. The national vacancy rate fell to 4.8%, according to the Industrial Business Indicator from Prologis. Warehouse development is barely keeping pace with the pandemic-driven spike in e-commerce and the trend for additional safety stock to guard against supply chain volatility. While millions click and shop, not everyone welcomes an influx of tractor-trailers and delivery vans onto their city streets.

Communities: We don't want to be your neighbor
When proposing a warehouse, developers must provide realistic operational estimates and show a willingness to act on community concerns, development experts said.

"The key is really to have a direct and honest conversation with the community and officials about the impact of the logistics industry and parcel deliveries, including groceries and vaccinations, that have to get delivered," said Timothy Jemal, CEO of the Southern California chapter of NAIOP, a commercial real estate development trade association. "It starts with education about how the logistics industry is vital to the economy and provides good-paying jobs and career pathways to thousands of people."

While some communities welcome logistics jobs, others push back against expected traffic congestion, noise and air pollution from increased truck traffic. One Upland citizen told the local newspaper that warehouses may be acceptable for Fontana, a nearby community to the east, but not for their city.

Bridge Development Partners originally proposed a 977,00 square-foot project presented to the community as Project Baxter. After more than a year of community meetings and hundreds of written comments, the project morphed into a 201,096-square foot last-mile delivery hub for Amazon according to local media. The facility is designed for tractor-trailers to deliver goods to the warehouse, which would be distributed in the region by smaller trucks. As part of the deal, Bridge offered the city and community $17 million in a 20-year development agreement.

Community resistance in Upland hinges on the environmental and community impact of increased truck traffic, which residents fear will change the city's characteristics. One commissioner said the development would transform the 50 acres of vacant land often used as a homeless encampment.

The terms of the proposed conditional-use permit limit truck traffic to 25 per day or five during daytime hours and 20 at night, for a total of 50 truck trips in 24 hours. The city added terms for a fine of $45,000 on the second violation of the agreement, which a consultant will monitor. A lawsuit filed by a community group has delayed construction so far. The next hearing is April 23 and could be extended until May 11.

 

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