OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced filing a comment letter that identifies serious legal issues concerning the proposed Airport Gateway Specific Plan in the Inland Empire Cities of Highland and San Bernardino. The Airport Gateway Specific Plan would streamline future development of up to 9.2 million square feet of new warehouses just north of the San Bernardino Airport. In his comment letter, Attorney General Bonta raises several problems with the Airport Gateway Specific Plan, primarily that it would displace approximately 2,600 residents in a majority-Hispanic community that already suffers from extreme socioeconomic disadvantages and a shortage of affordable housing, as well as bring over 3,000 new heavy-duty diesel truck trips per day into the Highland and San Bernardino communities that already experience some of the worst air pollution in the state.
“Community and environmental groups have raised significant concerns about the proposed Airport Gateway Specific Plan, and they’re absolutely right to do so,” said Attorney General Bonta. “My office has submitted a comment letter because this project, in its current form, would likely violate several California housing and environmental laws. While I support economic development, it must be done responsibly and fairly. It is deeply troubling that thousands of individuals would be displaced under the current Airport Gateway Specific Plan, and that there is no proposed relocation assistance for them.”
In his comment letter to the Inland Valley Redevelopment Agency, the lead agency for the Airport Gateway Specific Plan, and to the Cities of Highland and San Bernardino, Attorney General Bonta writes that the Airport Gateway Specific Plan likely violates:
Attorney General Bonta is committed to enforcing California’s housing laws that require the building of more housing and to protecting tenants. On November 3, 2021, he announced the creation of a Housing Justice Team within the California Department of Justice. On April 1, 2022, he issued a consumer alert reminding California’s tenants of their rights and protections under state law. On July 13, 2022, he issued legal guidance about steps law enforcement officers should take to prevent and respond to unlawful lockouts and self-help evictions. On March 9, 2023, he filed a lawsuit against the City of Huntington Beach for violating state housing laws. On May 1, 2023, he filed a lawsuit against the City of Elk Grove, challenging the city’s denial of a proposed supportive housing project in the city’s Old Town Special Planning Area. On June 16, 2023, he announced a settlement against Green Valley Corporation, a San Jose-based housing developer and property manager, to resolve allegations that the company violated the California Tenant Protection Act by issuing unlawful rent increases to nearly 20 of its employee tenants and serving unlawful eviction notices to six of those employee tenants.
Similarly, Attorney General Bonta is committed to fighting environmental injustices throughout the state of California and being a voice for frontline communities who are all too often under-resourced and overburdened. Launched in 2018, Attorney General Bonta announced the expansion of the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Environmental Justice on April 28, 2021. Since its inception, the Bureau of Environmental Justice has reviewed hundreds of warehouse projects across the state and collected best practices and mitigation measures to assist local governments in complying with CEQA. In addition, on April 18, 2022, Attorney General Bonta announced an innovative settlement with the City of Fontana to protect vulnerable communities from pollution associated with industrial development and, on December 6, 2022, he announced an agreement requiring the City of Stockton to prepare and consider an ordinance implementing robust mitigation measures for future warehouse development in the city and impose similarly robust mitigation measures to the proposed Mariposa Industrial Park Project.
A copy of the comment letter is available here.