On April 12th, 2022, the City of Fontana passed Ordinance 1891 (“Ordinance”). The Ordinance implemented new-wave environmental justice policies for industrial commerce centers, and although its reach is limited to Fontana alone, its terms give a snapshot of the environmentally focused land use policies that are beginning to appear on the horizon.
The Ordinance was the result of CEQA litigation brought by the CA Attorney General Rob Bonta against the City of Fontana. The Ordinance aims to reduce the impact that new industrial commerce centers will have on communities by imposing rigorous requirements on the planning, construction, and use of those centers.
In particular, the Ordinance seeks to reduce the impact of distribution traffic and activity, especially in relation to any “sensitive receptors” adjacent to the distribution centers. It also substantially increases the energy standards imposed on these centers, both during their construction and subsequent operation.
To reduce the impact of warehouse traffic on the area, the Ordinance calls for special planning and organization of the sites. It stipulates:
In addition to the activity mitigation detailed above, industrial centers must be physically separated from any adjacent “sensitive receptors” by vegetated buffer zones, with varying requirements depending on the size of the warehouse. As follows:
Finally, the Ordinance includes regulations that implement clean energy standards on the buildings’ planning, construction, and use, with the aim of lowering environmental impacts. They require:
Fontana’s new Ordinance represents an effort to re-orient the city’s relationship with its prevalent warehouse industry in a way that will allow future industry expansions to proceed in step with environmental justice policies. Currently, Fontana’s ordinance is the first of its kind. Whether other cities will follow suit is a question for the future, but with the CA Attorney General using CEQA litigation to push such policies, Fontana may not remain an outlier for long.
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David Temblador is a Partner and Joseph Harrison is a Legal Intern at Harrison, Temblador, Hungerford & Guernsey LLP in Sacramento, California.
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