I recently introduced Assembly Bill AB) 485 to provide increased public transparency of warehouse development projects funded using taxpayer dollars.
Warehouse developments have grown tremendously in the Inland Empire. As of 2018, Riverside and San Bernardino counties had more than 65,000 individuals working in warehouse jobs.
While the building of warehouses can be seen as a great job creator and tax revenue generator, the data collected over time from warehouse projects paints a different picture about the long-term benefits these developments have on a community. These jobs often come with difficult working conditions, poor benefits, and are at risk of ultimately becoming automated.
Cities strive to compete with one another for new warehouses using tax incentives and economic development subsidies to entice companies to build multiple stadium-sized warehouses. Companies like Amazon benefit from these bidding wars and often choose to build in the city that provides them the best deal. However, the taxpayer-funded subsidies, and other benefits, offered and provided by cities and counties to these companies are not made available to the public.
It just takes a short drive down the 215 Freeway to see firsthand how warehouse developments have changed the landscape of the Inland Empire. This is in large part due to the subsidies provided by local government. Yet, research is showing that warehouses aren’t truly benefiting the communities in which they are built.
If cities are going to spend millions in taxpayer dollars to bring these jobs to their communities, at the very least there should be some assurances that workers will be paid a living wage and have adequate safety protections.
Government needs to be smart when using our limited funds. AB 485 will increase transparency so that decisions made improve the lives of the public. It’s common-sense legislation that’s good for workers, taxpayers, and our communities.
(Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside) represents the 61st District.)