Plans to open a 700,000-square-foot warehouse on the former Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino continue generating heated debates as supporters, including some elected officials and union reps, clash with environmental groups and concerned residents on what is best for the space.
On Thursday, Aug. 8, both sides clashed in oral arguments during a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) public meeting held at the Norton Regional Event Center in San Bernardino.
The San Bernardino International Airport Authority has approved the project, dubbed Eastgate Air Cargo Logistics. However, the FAA is gathering input from local residents and organizations before allowing or denying construction and operation.
The FAA will continue receiving comments until 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19.
According to Teamsters Local 1932, the project would add more trucks in the neighborhoods, more flights in the air, would add to the worst air quality in the country, would expose children to harmful emissions, increase the risk of developing respiratory-related diseases, and would offer low paying jobs, among other concerns.
However, the Laborer’s International Union of North America (LiUNA) supports the project because it would create at least 4,000 permanent and temporary jobs.
The project, according to Teamsters Local 1932, would add 24 around-the-clock air cargo flights; and about 7,516 daily vehicle trips, including 500 daily truck trips to local streets. A possible tenant is Amazon.
Anthony Victoria, spokesperson for the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, said if the project is built without a community benefits agreement, neighborhoods in the vicinity will see a continuing increase in diesel emissions and asthma and cancer rates increase.
“We can’t continue to sacrifice the well being of our community for short-term goals. If we’re really looking at the long term stability of our region, we need to see a hand committed from developers and leaders when it comes to improving the quality of air and quality of jobs,” he said.
San Bernardino Mayor John Valdivia, who sits on the Airport’s Authority along with representatives of the San Bernardino County, Loma Linda, Colton and Highland, told a group of Republicans in Highland recemtly -that the project would bring much-needed jobs and that the increase in traffic is a “good problem to have.”
According to the Environmental Impact Report, the timeline for the project has been accelerated to meet the needs of a prospective tenant and to have operations by October of this year.