Board Splits, Community Members Protest Riverside’s “Good Neighbors” Guidelines

Board Splits, Community Members Protest Riverside’s “Good Neighbors” Guidelines

Riverside

By a three to two vote, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors has approved guidelines it claims are designed to protect unincorporated communities from the hazards of air pollution and other harmful impacts of the region’s growing warehouse industry.  Although the new guidelines were packaged as a noble effort to protect the community, reading between the lines some residents expressed concern the guidelines carried little, if any, hope of delivering on the promise of “Good Neighbors.”  This is largely because in addition to what some view as shortcomings in the plans design, Board Supervisors are free to independently choose whether to implement them within his or her respective supervisorial district.  In addition, the guidelines do not apply to projects already working their way through the approval process. And perhaps most disconcerting of all, the guidelines will reduce the required size of buffer zones between residential properties and warehouses developed in the future.  In this regard, the county is moving in a direction opposite of buffer limits recommended by the state. A letter from the State Attorney General’s office recommended increasing the buffer from 300 feet to 1,000 feet and suggested any off-road construction equipment meet the stricter level air-quality standards set by the California Air Resources Board. Environmental groups also advocate for wider buffer zones.  Several citizens in attendance at the Board meeting were not shy about expressing their opposition to the guidelines and disrupted the board meeting several times over concerns about air quality and community health.  The region’s high asthma rates, poor air quality, growing number of warehouses and increasing community awareness about this issue makes it almost certain this will not be the last time community concerns will bubble to the surface on this important issue.  

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