FONTANA, Calif. — Fontana residents have filed an appeal against the latest warehouse project in town.
The South Fontana Concerned Citizens Coalition will argue at Tuesday night’s city council meeting that the warehouse is too close to a high school. The group believes the continued building of commercial spaces is adversely affecting air quality and children’s health.
Eight-year-old Fontana resident Lucas Miramontes says his nose bleeds a lot at night.
“It feels really bad when I get bloody noses, and it sort of scares me,” he said.
Lucas' mom, Amparo Miramontes, explained how doctors believe the cause is air pollution.
“I cover his entire pillow with towels at night because in the morning, the whole towel will be full of blood,” Amparo said.
Amparo financed and saved for a HEPA filter to clean the air inside her home, but she’s worried about the air outside.
“A lot of these warehouses going in are really terrifying for us because that’s more pollution on top of where we’re already at,” Miramontes said.
Sixty warehouses and industrial spaces have been permitted in the last five years, according to city data. Many homes are less than a mile away from those sites.
Robert Martinez is a senior at Jurupa Hills High School, which is next to the latest warehouse project. He plays baseball and says he’s worried about pollution from the truck traffic.
“How are we gonna get better if we can’t breathe when we’re running or catching fly balls?” Martinez said.
The SFCCC has filed an appeal to stop the building of the warehouse. Group leader Elizabeth Sena says the community is fed up.
"We had to put our own money to file a $350 dollar appeal to temporarily pause that because we know no one in the city is going to put a warehouse moratorium," Sena said. "They aren’t going to do anything to regulate or fix that. We as a community put our money together to put an appeal. That’s what we’re fighting for."
Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren said she’s proud when commercial permits hit her desk. She’s been nicknamed “Warehouse Warren” because of the number of industrial projects since her leadership began in 2010.
Warren noted that the projects have increased property values and added 78,000 job opportunities. She admits more can be done to mitigate the increased truck traffic, thanks to a rise in deliveries during the pandemic, but says each project meets state and federal environmental regulations — including the one next to the school.
“It’s in the back of the school. The entrance to the school is on the other street, we did everything we could to mitigate safety,” Warren said. “Even the school district worked with us to make sure whatever their needs were taken care of.”
As for air quality, Warren says it has improved. According to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, Fontana had 89 days that were unhealthy for sensitive groups in 2020. Recent studies in the area show the air toxics cancer risk has declined since 1998, though the level of risk is still “unacceptably high.”
Miramontes said she doesn’t want more warehouses built and more bad air for her kids to breathe. She wants a future with fewer projects.
“If we’re going to put warehouses in, that's one thing. But if we’re going to put warehouses right on top of our kids, we’re basically signing a death sentence for them.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article identified Elizabeth Sena's last name as "Serna," while also incorrectly attributing the claim about projects adding 78,000 job opportunities to Sena instead of Warren. The article has since been updated. (June 22, 2021)