The Redlands City Council is considering banning new warehouse developments.
The council held a public hearing Tuesday, Feb. 21, to discuss an ordinance recommended by city officials to regulate warehouse development and operations. The ordinance would have limited development and logistics operations with zoning regulations and requirements for new permits for development. That wasn’t enough for the city council. The council voted unanimously to continue discussing warehouse regulations later, as city officials look into the possibility of not permitting new warehouses.
“The majority of the council is advocating for drastic change,” Mayor Eddie Tejeda said.
City staff and council members recognized a lack of land left in the city for warehouses, especially with how much land already is taken up by warehouses in Redlands and other cities in the Inland Empire. The council discussed concerns about the environmental impacts of warehouses. Some members of the public also spoke to the council, calling logistics “detrimental” to the environment and saying warehouses “ruin” a city’s character. The council steered toward discussing the possible banning of new warehouse development altogether. The council also asked officials to look into the legal possibilities of not permitting warehouses.
“This is an issue I’ve thought a lot about,” Councilmember Denise Davis said. “This is an issue we need to table for now … use this as a stepping stone to rethink what our values are.” Councilmember Jenna Guzman-Lowery agreed, adding that there are more than 4,000 warehouses in the Inland Empire, while there were 234 warehouses in 1980.
“We don’t need more warehouses,” Mayor Pro Tem Paul Barich said. Barich cited the only location at which he would “accept” more warehousing: the former site of Splash Kingdom — “the old waterpark” that was demolished in July 2021. “Other than that, I don’t see why we would need more warehouses,” Barich said.
City officials said that not having warehouses at all was not part of their recommendation. In June 2022, the council approved a temporary moratorium on new warehouses. The following month, the council extended the moratorium for another 90 days. The ban on new projects ended Oct. 17, 2022. At least one councilmember mentioned the possibility of another break from new logistics projects. “I wouldn’t be bothered one bit to have a moratorium,” Barich said. Because the moratorium was no longer in effect, city officials said there would be no extension of it, but they could study the legal ramifications of not permitting warehousing.
The council then voted to push the discussion to a future meeting. Last month, more than 60 progressive organizations joined forces with The Robert Redford Conservancy to send an open letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, calling for a warehouse moratorium in the Inland Empire. In the Nov. 8 election, more than half of Redlands voters decided to increase the tax on warehouses.