The Inland Empire, once desirable for its affordable housing, is currently facing a housing crisis while simultaneously experiencing an overpopulation of warehouses. Warehouses have become the main economy and more are being built on land once zoned for housing. Warehouses are increasing at a rate five times faster than population growth in this region and are not slowing down anytime soon. With more and more warehouses appearing every year, it is clear that the interests of companies are being prioritized over the citizens who live in the area and experience the negative effects that come from living near them.
While the main benefit often boasted when a new warehouse opens is that it’ll bring more jobs, the jobs being presented are not ones of quality. Warehouses like Amazon overwork their employees through labor intensive positions. Most people who have worked a warehouse job will speak unfavorably about the conditions of the facility. These jobs presented do not outweigh the other costs that result from being in proximity to warehouses. Instead these companies prey on the community as limited skills are needed and the positions often have quick turn around rates.
The environmental conditions that arise from the warehouses are also a concern. Warehouses do not directly produce harmful emissions, but the trucks and other traffic attracted to them result in a lower air quality throughout the region. According to a report released in March by the U.S. House of Representatives, counties within the Inland Empire have some of the worst air quality in the United States. The same report also found that California’s 39th Congressional District, which includes parts of Jurupa Valley, Riverside, Moreno Valley, and Perris, fails to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for both fine particulate matter and ozone. The pollutants that the community is exposed to then increases the risk for respiratory diseases. Not only do the trucks worsen the air quality, they also bring longer commutes due to the added traffic. Yet another problem exacerbated by the warehouses.
A new problem being faced by the warehouses is an increased housing shortage. Land once designated for housing is being given to large corporations to build more warehouses and further plaque the Inland Empire. Affordable housing is a concern throughout California and is an especially prevalent issue for students of UC Riverside. Campus housing does not satisfy the needs of the campus population causing most students to find housing in the surrounding communities. Now the cost of rent is increasing due to a lack of housing. Downzoning is occurring where land once suitable for land is being labeled as unsuitable now and being rezoned for industrial use. The Inland Empire Utility Agency recently proposed a 9.3 million square feet logistics center on top of a residential neighborhood that, if approved, will displace residents and stop the building of the additional homes that were once proposed there.
The warehouse boom occurring in the Inland Empire is unfavorable and undesired by the community yet more continue to be added. The negative effects that they cause are not offset by the “jobs” they bring. The cities and counties actively participating in allowing more warehouses to be built are not looking out for the needs of their citizens. They are being bought out by the corporations and only care about their own greed. Moratoriums on warehouses should be introduced along with stricter environmental standards that already standing warehouses must abide by. Affordable housing and a decent quality of life should not be substituted for more warehouses.