Breanna Reeves |
Members of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ) and the South Fontana Concerned Citizens (SFCC) came together to host a press conference on July 27 to commend Attorney General Rob Bonta’s decision to sue the city of Fontana.
The Office of the Attorney General filed a lawsuit for the approval of the warehouse on Slover and Oleander on July 23 due to its close proximity to a public high school and its location in one of the most polluted areas in the state.
The American Lung Association marked San Bernardino County as having some of the highest pollution levels, giving the county an “F” grade in terms of air quality. The Inland Empire houses hundreds of shipping warehouses due to the growing logistics industry and companies like Amazon.
The lawsuit asserts that the city failed to adequately conduct an environmental review of the project and that this failure violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). According to the law, states and local governments are required to “inform decision makers and the public about the potential environmental impacts of proposed projects, and to reduce those environmental impacts to the extent feasible.”
“Plain and simple: Everyone has the right to breathe clean air where they live and where they work,” said Attorney General Bonta. “As Attorney General, I have a responsibility to enforce the state’s environmental laws, and as the people’s attorney, I am committed to standing up for communities who live at the intersection of poverty and pollution. Fontana residents shouldn’t have to choose between economic development and clean air. They deserve both.”
According to CCAEJ Interim Executive Director Ana Gonzalez, “By stepping up for the community, Attorney General Bonta has shown he stands with the EJ (Environmental Justice) communities impacted by these developments. This shows that by organizing and mobilizing, we can come together and hold our officials accountable.”
“For months we have been working tirelessly to make sure that the concerns of the citizens and the community are being heard. On June 22nd, my organization filed an appeal against the planning commission’s decision to approve a warehouse being built right next to the Jurupa Hills High School,” said Elizabeth Sena, a Fontana resident, mother, healthcare worker and founding member of the SFCC. “The appeal was heard before the mayor and city council, however, they denied our appeal and decided to approve the warehouse after all.”
The approval of the Slover and Oleander Warehouse Project will add another warehouse to the 20 plus warehouses that already exist within a mile of this new site. The warehouse project is located in a neighborhood that is predominantly home to people of color in south Fontana.
According to a statement released by the AG’s office, “The warehouse is expected to generate approximately 114 daily truck trips and 272 daily passenger car trips during the project’s round-the-clock operations. In addition, one quarter of the warehouse space is equipped for cold storage, a use that attracts highly-polluting trucks with auxiliary diesel engines needed for refrigeration.”
“This lawsuit is long overdue, and will finally shed light onto the abuse of power from city officials. The community’s concerns regarding air pollution have been disregarded by the Fontana City Council,” said Sena. “However, this lawsuit will help protect community residents against injustice practices that have been carried out by Fontana’s city officials.”
Breanna Reeves is a reporter in Riverside and uses data-driven reporting to cover issues that affect the lives of Black Californians. Breanna joins Black Voice News as a Report for America Corps member. Previously, Breanna reported on activism and social inequality in San Francisco and Los Angeles, her hometown. Breanna graduated from San Francisco State University with a bachelor’s degree in Print & Online Journalism. She received her master’s degree in Politics and Communication from the London School of Economics. Contact Breanna with tips, comments or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter @_breereeves.