Riverside County supervisors are expected Tuesday to hold their final hearing on a proposed “Good Neighbor Policy” establishing criteria to gauge the compatibility of warehouse and logistics center projects with unincorporated communities, and ensure future facilities use technology that reduce noise and pollution.
During the initial hearing on Aug. 6, Transportation & Land Management Agency Director Juan Perez told the Board of Supervisors that the “tremendous amount of growth in logistics” over the last several decades led to findings by agency analysts that culminated in formation of the Good Neighbor Policy.
Perez said further growth is assured, largely because foreign imports unloaded at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach end up stored in the Inland Empire.
Mammoth warehousing projects have drawn criticism over the years, stemming from 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 was the lone vote against the colossal warehouse.
The proposed 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 it 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 furnishing the county Planning Commission and the board as and when necessary to help both bodies make appropriate decisions, Perez said.
The policy would direct that developers build no closer than 300 feet from a warehouse dock door to the house or other building that defines a sensitive receptor, and that during the construction phase, heavy-duty trucks, graders and excavators use California Air Resources Board-compliant 2010 or newer low emission engines.
Contractors would be required to keep all construction equipment parked in designated areas, away from residences, and during building activity, truckers would be directed not to idle for more than five minutes at a time.
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 disturbance, and routes would need to be laid out with the goal of putting trucks on freeways and highways quickly, minimizing time on surface streets.
Compliance officers would need to be on hand at all times to monitor operations and make certain employees are not violating policy guidelines, officials said.
The proposal specifies that facilities should be constructed so electrical panels and conduits are available for refrigerated and other trucks that need power to keep cargo holds climate-controlled — and “eliminate idling of main or auxiliary engines during the loading and unloading process.”
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 — to mitigate the increased pollution and environmental consequences connected with logistics facilities, according to the policy.
According to TLMA, close facsimiles of the proposed Good Neighbor Policy are under consideration by the Riverside County Transportation Commission and South Coast Air Quality Management District.
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