Riverside County supervisors Tuesday will debate whether to implement a proposed “Good Neighbor Policy” establishing criteria to assess the compatibility of warehouse and logistics center projects with unincorporated communities and create standards for developers to follow once projects are approved.
“This policy has been developed to provide a framework through which large-scale logistics and warehouse uses can be better designed and operated in a way that lessens their impact on surrounding communities and the environment,” according to a Transportation and Land Management Agency statement posted to the Board of Supervisors’ agenda. “It … provides a series of development and operational criteria that can be implemented to supplement project-level mitigation measures in order to further reduce impacts related to logistics and warehousing development and operations.”
The logistics industry is a leading employer in the Inland Empire, with further growth anticipated in the coming years, thanks to traffic from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, according to economists, including researchers from the UC Riverside School of Business.
Mammoth warehousing projects have stirred controversy over the years, with opponents citing traffic congestion, pollution, noise and other concerns. A court-issued injunction recently stopped construction of the World Logistics Center in Moreno Valley, based on evidence of a possible flawed environmental impact report tied to the 40 million-square-foot development. A group of Cherry Valley and Beaumont residents last year attempted, unsuccessfully, to prevent the 230-acre San Gorgonio Crossing Project from moving forward. Supervisor Kevin Jeffries cast the lone vote against the colossal warehouse.
The Good Neighbor Policy underscores the need to protect “sensitive receptors,” identified as residences, daycare centers, hospitals, nursing homes, parks and playgrounds.
According to the TLMA, the policy’s aim would be to ensure qualify-of-life issues are addressed “from the initial design process, to construction and through operations.”
The policy would generally focus on projects in excess of 250,000 square feet, but would not supplant requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act.
TLMA officials would be responsible for gathering all pertinent details in the vetting stage of a proposed development and furnish the county Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors as and when necessary to help both bodies make appropriate decisions, agency Director Juan Perez said.
The policy would direct that developers build no closer than 1,000 feet from a sensitive receptor, and that during the construction phase, heavy-duty trucks, graders and excavators use CARB-certified low emission engines.
Contractors would be required to agree to keep all construction equipment parked in designated areas, away from residences, and during building activity, truck drivers would be directed not to idle for more than five minutes at a time, with vehicles situated in a manner to cause the least noise and pollutant incursions in surrounding neighborhoods.
Facilities would need to be designed so that “on-site queueing of commercial trucks … is away from sensitive receptors,” with minimal spillover of truck traffic onto residential streets.
The policy would also push for berms, trees and other landscaping to be installed that shields receptors from warehousing activity, which typically runs 24 hours.
Lighting and public address systems would need to be designed with the objective of creating the least intrusion on receptors, according to the policy.
“Facility operators shall establish specific truck routes between the facility and regular destinations, identifying the most direct routes to the nearest highway/freeway and avoid traveling through local residential communities,” the proposal states.
Compliance officers would need to be on hand 24/7 to monitor operations and make certain employees are not violating policy guidelines, officials said.
The policy would further encourage developers to look at ways of improving public infrastructure, including streets, in the immediate vicinity of each project as an offset to the impact of construction.
A future supplemental funding rule might additionally be put in place, requiring a one-time payment by developers — separate from county developer impact fees, or DIFs — to mitigate the increased pollution and environmental consequences connected with logistics facilities, according to the policy.
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