After January’s scoping session for the Gateway Center warehouse project, I’ve done some research and spoken to a number of concerned residents. I am convinced we can stop the “Gateway Project” and send a very important message as well.
If the Developer and the County get enough push-back, unless they really want a particular project, the word on the street will be “stay away from The Pass, our residents are warehouse unfriendly and will fight tooth and nail each time to stop these warehouse projects. We will make the developer and county spend way more money and time than they planned.” We need to work to increase the number of people against a project, and raise the expectation of mitigation measures so the cost of mitigation isn’t worth doing the project. If they still want the project, we want to extract as much as possible in mitigation fees and measures to make the project too expensive and cumbersome to get done as a speculative project.
For years the developers have been working hand-in-glove with the local cities staff staff and consultants and they don’t expect any blow-back from the community–or what they do get, they think will all be handled. They have to understand that their life here will be very expensive and time consuming on every level. Then they will eventually go away. Developers will go elsewhere to get their warehouses in and say they went there because it’s more business friendly. We need to be warehouse unfriendly on every level.
I’ve heard some say the Gateway project has been fast-tracked, I’m not sure it has. It has been around a while and with the economy improving, the Developers are back pushing for the process to go forward by submitting information that was needed to the County, and probably filling up the developer fee account with cash deposits for staff to work on. The Developer just wants to push this through before the community wakes up–but the process is being followed per State guidelines. Planners have projects all the time that lie dormant until the economy gets better and when it does the Developers start wanting to move forward, actually turn loose of some money for the County to process the project, get some Bank financing and market the project to new buyers.
We need to be aware that many people in this region need and want jobs–and probably any job. Many people here barely graduated high school and think its elitist to talk about higher paying jobs. They resent all the new housing with people who make more money than them. They could care less if people in the CFD’s, who earn more, have to drive an hour in congestion to professional jobs with high pay and benefits. They are scrapping for work and honestly the job situation here is lousy. There may well be plenty of people who come out of the woodwork to support warehousing for the economic growth and jobs. Plus the land-owners really want to sell their land. It is not so easy to stop projects. I believe there is a way, but it is not a clear path. We have to keep working within the system, get with the elected officials, keep the pressure up, educate the citizens, do most of the work ourselves, and even then, our own family and neighbors may say they like the idea of jobs and that growth is inevitable.
There are a number of things we need to do to stop this project. To be successful we are going to need to be organized, raise awareness with a number of responsible agencies as well as our neighbors. We will need to keep the pressure on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, Riverside County Transportation and Land Management Agency (TLMA), Riverside County Flood Control, Riverside County Planning Department, California Fish and Game, Air Quality Management District (AQMD), Caltrans and others.
We need to be speaking at Board of Supervisor meetings, impressing upon them how organized everyone is, and how important it is for Cherry Valley to stay rural and true to all of the planning that has been done to protect the area–and let them know that warehouses such as The Gateway Center, and the trucks, traffic congestion and pollution that accompany them need to be located in more appropriate locations in the County, such as March Air Force Base and other industrial zoned areas.
When the draft EIR is ready for Paul Ruhl of the TLMA to send to the agencies I listed above, we need to already have our network of contacts in place and pressure each agency not to rubber stamp their approval but to weigh in on the concerns we will have already raised. I know attorneys and AQMD were crucial in stopping the big warehouse project in Beaumont last year but attorneys aren’t cheap and the AQMD was almost too late to the game. We need to be able to dispute environmental findings and make sure everyone that reviews the EIR knows they are being watched carefully and that the citizens feel they are just as important and organized as the Developer, the number of people against this project will determine our chance of success.
If you believe this is a cause worth fighting for, jump on board. We are going to need everyone we can get.