A lawsuit challenging a 1.4-million-square-foot warehouse project in Jurupa Valley that opponents argued would produce harmful levels of pollution was settled today after the city and developers agreed to take steps to mitigate air quality impacts for the benefit of surrounding neighborhoods.
The Riverside-based Center for Community Action & Environmental Justice sued in July 2011 to halt the Mira Loma Commerce Center, to be located at Etiwanda Avenue and the Pomona (60) Freeway.
The suit was based on alleged findings that the estimated 1,500 semis coming and going from the site daily would pose a significant health threat to residents of nearby Mira Loma Village.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris joined the suit in September 2011, citing alleged flaws in Riverside County’s environmental assessment of the project and inaction on recommendations that mitigating measures be implemented.
The county and Jurupa Valley were named as defendants in the suit. Jurupa Valley had just incorporated when the civil action was filed.
According to the Office of the Attorney General, the city took the lead in resolving the dispute.
“It is a false choice to suggest that in order for California business to thrive, public health must suffer,” Harris said. “It is my intention that this settlement will provide a model for local governments, developers and communities to work together to ensure responsible development.”
Penny Newman, executive director of the Center for Community Action & Environmental Justice, lauded the spirit of cooperation that led to the agreement.
“This settlement has created the ‘gold standard’ for settlements in addressing impacts through a model process of how diverse stakeholders can come together and cooperatively find comprehensive solutions,” she said.
Requests for comment from Jurupa Valley officials and Riverside County Supervisor John Tavaglione — a critic of the lawsuit and in whose district Jurupa Valley sits — were not immediately answered.
Under the settlement, the city and project developers will commit to the following:
- Adding an “environmental justice” element to the city’s general plan.
- Installing air filtration systems in the homes of affected residents.
- Creating green belts or buffer zones of vegetation that lie between the project site and Mira Loma Village.
- Adhering to LEED-certified building standards, including the use of solar power to meet the warehouse’s electricity needs.
According to Harris, the city has also committed to moving forward with an “anti-idling” ordinance that would prohibit heavy trucks from using the road adjacent to Mira Loma Village as a temporary stop.
Jurupa Valley, Eastvale and communities just to the north in San Bernardino County comprise a massive warehousing district, into and out of which large numbers of commercial trucks go hourly.
According to the attorney general, there are 90 “mega-warehouse complexes” that serve as shipment depots for the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.