By Russel Ingold

The Fontana City Council approved four major projects — including three involving the construction of warehouses — during the Nov. 10 meeting.

The actions taken on the warehouses were highly controversial, with more than two dozen concerned citizens sending virtual voice messages to the five-member council expressing their opposition to some or all of those proposals.

Two of the warehouse projects were OKd by slim margins of 3-2, and a third one succeeded by a vote of 4-1.

Mayor Acquanetta Warren has been strongly pushing for the building of warehouses in the city for several years, and City Councilmember Jesus “Jesse” Sandoval has consistently been against them.

“I want to thank all my colleagues; once again we have moved Fontana forward,” Warren said after the voting was completed.

During the lengthy meeting, the City Council was considering four combined General Plan amendments and projects that had previously been approved by the Planning Commission and had been recommended by staff, according to Zai AbuBakar, director of community development.

—– THE FIRST PROJECT, construction of 107-unit multi-family detached condominiums, passed by a unanimous 5-0 margin.

The condominiums will be located on 10.2 acres on the north side of South Highland Avenue between San Sevaine Road and Hemlock Avenue in northwestern Fontana.

Stratham Homes will provide several amenities, including a resort-style swimming pool area, clubhouse, open lawn area, dog park, and fitness park. Straham will also make improvements to the area, including curbs, gutters, and sidewalks.

—– THE SECOND PROJECT was the construction of a 41,000-square-foot warehouse distribution facility on the northeast corner of Slover and Juniper avenues in southern Fontana. The Planning Commission had discussed possible traffic concerns.

Voting in favor were Warren and Councilmembers John Roberts, Jesse Armendarez, and Phillip Cothran, and voting no was Sandoval.

—– THE THIRD PROJECT was the construction of a 332,998-square-foot distribution and logistics warehouse facility on the northeast corner of Sierra and Casa Grande avenues in northern Fontana.

David Wiener and Ray Allard were overseeing the project, which would encompass 15.2 acres.

After receiving letters from the City of Rialto, conditions were placed on traffic arrangements.

This time, both Cothran and Sandoval cast “no” votes.

—– THE FOURTH PROJECT was the construction of two high cube warehouses totaling about 754,408 square feet.

The Fontana Foothills Commerce Center is located on 33.6 acres in the northeast corner of Jurupa and Juniper avenues in southern Fontana.

The city will receive a public benefit fee of $3.2 million due to this project.

Again, Cothran and Sandoval voted to reject the proposal.

The locations for the third and fourth projects were previously zoned for residential use, and as a result, the city, in order to adhere to housing requirements, had to instead designate alternate areas in the city that could potentially be used for that purpose sometime down the road.

—– DURING the public comment portion of the hearing, a barrage of speakers provided numerous complaints about the warehouses.

Many of the speakers said they have been repeatedly frustrated because Fontana keeps allowing these proposals to proceed.

“As a community member, I have seen the negative impacts of these projects,” said Ana Gonzalez, a representative from the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ), a local environmental organization.

Gonzalez said she is concerned about residents’ health (because of added air pollution) and also about problems with truck traffic, a topic which Sandoval also mentioned.

Gonzalez added that warehouse jobs typically pay relatively low wages and therefore should not be encouraged.

However, there were also a few commenters who were supportive of the warehouses.

Eddie Rivera, a long-time Inland Empire resident and construction worker, said that the Fontana Foothills Commerce Center would be highly beneficial because the center would negotiate with unions to provide good-paying jobs. In addition, Rivera said that having the center so close to his home would reduce his commuting costs.

Warren said that she recently met with local residents about their concerns. She said the main problem is not the warehouses — which must meet all the regulations imposed by the city — but rather the illegal and unregulated trucking activity that is going on in the San Bernardino County areas.

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