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Will Redlands City Council put a stop to local warehouse expansion? (UPDATE)

Plus, how residents can voice their opinion.

UPDATE: 04/04/23 City Council unanimously passes regulations for new warehouses in Redlands. The new development standards, outlined below, will limit the development of new warehouses to 6 parcels in Redlands covering about 50 acres. The City Council did not consider a vote to stop permitting warehouses in Redlands.

REDLANDS, CA - A new warehouse is coming to Redlands. In March, the San Bernardino County Planning Commission approved a 208,000-square-foot distribution warehouse with 24 truck docks on Almond Ave in Redlands. The warehouse will replace the orange grove that currently sits in what's called the "donut hole" between Alabama and Nevada streets. The land located on the city's northeast side is entirely surrounded by Redlands but is controlled by the county.

The following map shows where the nearly 10-acre piece of property (outlined in red) sits just north of the apartment complex Circa 2020 on Lugonia Avenue.

ArcGIS satellite imagery showing where the proposed warehouse will be located at 77 Almond Ave Redlands, CA Source: ArcGIS Living Atlas

Despite its proximity to two apartment complexes, the developer has opted to reduce landscaping on the property by 5%. In exchange, they will donate $143,708 (1% of the project's cost) to an organization promoting art. The exchange usually requires providing public art, but it was determined public art did not make sense in this location.

Developers initially planned to donate to the San Bernardino County Museum. Commissioners suggested the donation be made to a local community college art department.

It was not determined during the meeting where the money would be donated. Instead, the land use services director will approve the donation.

Despite the impact on the Redlands community, there was no apparent input or representation from Redlands about where the donation should go.

Without an appeal, the Almond Ave warehouse project will add to the tally of over 4,000 warehouses that have popped up across the Inland Empire in the last 30 years.

San Bernardino County land use services can be contacted here.

Pushback against warehouse development

The Redlands City Council can control what happens to warehouse development in Redlands. On Tuesday, April 4, City Council will consider a new ordinance to regulate warehouse development.

The ordinance would apply to all new warehouse development projects in Redlands. Here are the highlights:

  1. Location requirements: New warehouses 50,000 sq ft or larger must be within one mile of a freeway ramp.
  2. Screening sensitive nearby properties: Warehouse projects that abut neighborhoods, childcare centers, hospitals, or other properties with a "sensitive receptor” require a ten-foot-high screen wall and extra landscaping. Truck docks and entries must be oriented away from these properties, and parking lots need to provide at least 35% shade cover.
  3. Traffic patterns and truck routes: Warehouse applicants must submit a Truck Routing Plan to show how large trucks will travel to the freeway without going through residential zones or districts. (View the city truck route map here). Other requirements include a traffic impact assessment and prohibiting on-street parking of trucks or cabs in residential areas.
  4. Sustainable energy: To limit truck idling, warehouse projects must include electric plug-in devices at all dock doors for refrigerated trailers. Other sustainable energy requirements include installing solar panels on the rooftop, cool roof treatments, Level 2 quick charge stations in the parking lot, and using zero-emissions on-site operational equipment.
  5. Other construction standards: Projects must construct an extra large electrical equipment room. This is to prepare for using more electrical equipment, such as EV Trucks. Other requirements include cool surface treatments on driveways and parking areas, encouraging using solar panels on parking shade structures and prohibiting outdoor storage higher than the perimeter screen wall shielding sensitive properties.

The City Council first considered the new rules on warehouse development in February. But they did not vote on the ordinance at that meeting. Instead, the council asked city staff to research what it would mean to no longer allow warehouse development in Redlands.

The request came after public comments and concerns from city council members about mega distribution centers' adverse health and environmental impacts. Concerns included:

  • The warehouses along the region's transportation corridor generate some 600,000 truck trips daily, producing an astounding 50 million pounds of carbon dioxide.
  • The air quality in the region is getting worse. In 2020, the percentage of "unhealthy" air quality days in San Bernardino County was 20% of the calendar, up from 15% of days in 2019.
  • Experts also warn that the already unstable, low-paying jobs are temporary and will be lost to automation over the next two decades.

City staff is expected to present their recommendations at Tuesday's meeting.

The staff report attached to the agenda advises the City Council to pass the proposed ordinance but not prohibit new warehouse development. The staff report provides two reasons not to completely ban warehouses:

  1. There are "very few remaining large vacant lots" for distribution warehouses
  2. "If warehouses and logistics distribution centers were to become completely prohibited land uses... then numerous existing properties and warehouses could become 'nonconforming.'"

The staff report shows around 1.16 million square feet of potential warehouse building is available in Redlands.

This makes up about 50 acres of land spread across six proposed locations in East Redlands, within a mile of the highway.

Potential warehouse sites map in Redlands Source: City of Redlands

The largest proposed warehouse would be built at the former Splash Kingdom water park off I-10. (Highlighted 1 on the map.) This land is zoned as "Special Development" as a part of the East Valley Corridor Specific Plan. At a July 2021 Redlands Planning Commission meeting, city staff discussed the broad list of uses that are permitted.

At the time, Commissioners encouraged the possibility of the land being developed into an entertainment spot for the community.

The staff report states a proposed 358,000 sq ft warehouse is under preliminary review.

What's Next...

On Tuesday, April 4, City Council will once again consider the fate of warehousing in Redlands.

There are three options. Maintain the status quo and place no new limitations on warehouse development; approve the proposed ordinance regulating warehouse development; or completely prohibit warehouses.

What do you think?

You can make public comments by attending the City Council meeting at City Hall or via Zoom at 6pm on April 4, 2023.

You can find the Zoom link on the agenda.

You can send a message to your city council member by clicking on the image below: