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Proposal to build massive warehouses near Inland Empire homes up for vote this week

Riverside County residents oppose new proposal to bring more warehouses near their homes
Riverside County residents oppose new proposal to bring more warehouses near their homes 02:58

A proposal to build millions of square feet worth of warehouses near some homes in Riverside is up for vote this week. 

The plan, developed by Lewis Management Corporation out of Upland, has been in the works for more than two years now as they hope to develop 1.2 square miles of currently open space and turn it into parks and commercial space, where warehouses the size of 32 football fields would be constructed.

"They're proposing 4.7 million square feet of warehouse in an area surrounded on more than three sides by residential homes, including a megachurch and a preschool," said Jennifer Larratt-Smith.

The Inland Empire is no stranger to massive warehouses, which have largely contributed to the area's ranking as one of the nation's dirtiest cities when it comes to air pollution. 

On top of that, some residents are concerned about the potential impacts it could have on their day-to-day lives. 

"The traffic is gonna be horrible," said Andrew Silva, who lives in the area. "If you've ever been on the 215 and the 60 right there, ever, it's always impacted."

California's Inland Empire Experiences Growth
A new logistics center (aka warehouse), located at the junction of Interstate 215 and Caljalco Road, is viewed on November 17, 2021, in Perris Valley, California. Areas in what were recently rural open spaces in and around March Air Reserve Base have exploded with the construction of hundreds of new homes, shopping centers, and warehouse shipping bases for companies such as Fed Ex, Amazon, UPS, and others. / Getty Images

Jerry Shearer, another neighbor, says that the loss of the open space could play a big factor. 

"The open space is a big deal, mental health is an ignored element of healthcare," Shearer said. "This allows lots of residents who sit on the freeway more than an hour at a time to find some peace."

These are some of the many reasons that residents have formed R-NOW, or Riverside Neighbors Opposing Warehouses. They plan to show up to a public hearing on Wednesday night where the March Joint Powers Commission are set to vote on whether the proposal will move forward. 

With 80 million square feet of warehouse already in the area, Riverside ranks as one of the nation's leading warehouse centers. 

"If you're looking at the logistics industry, it doesn't make sense to build new warehouses now, because it's softening," Larratt-Smith said. 

The land in question was formerly part of the March Air Force Base until about 30 years ago. In its height, more than 10,000 people were employed there. The land was intended to be converted into projects to create jobs, and even though the proposal would do just that, neighbors say it's not enough. 

"One type of job is not going to satisfy people graduating from college," said Shearer. 

Developers say that the project is going to be more than just warehouse, with $30 million allocated towards a 60-acre park, $10 million to a new fire station and what they say will be a large buffer zone between homes and the warehouses being developed. 

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