Warehouse Ban Job Killer Bill Faces House of Origin Deadline on Friday

(May 25, 2022) A California Chamber of Commerce job killer bill that prohibits local governments from approving certain new warehouses and development projects faces a key deadline on Friday, when it must pass out of the Assembly in order to keep moving through the legislative process.

AB 2840 (Reyes; D-San Bernardino) circumvents the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), creates an unprecedented ban on warehouses and logistics use projects irrespective of whether there are any project impacts, usurps local authority over land use decisions, exacerbates supply chain problems, and forces union labor for proposed private projects that are not banned.

Specifically, the bill prohibits local governments from approving any new or expansion of existing warehouses and development projects 100,000 square feet or more if: 1) proposed within 1,000 feet of sensitive receptors, or 2) alternative measures are not imposed on the project that effectively achieve 1,000-foot buffer level protections.

Additionally, the bill still requires that any qualifying logistics projects that are not outright banned use only a skilled and trained workforce and reserve an unspecified percentage of jobs for local residents, irrespective of whether that labor force is available or affordable.

In a recent letter to legislators, the CalChamber pointed out that AB 2840 will exacerbate the state’s supply chain problems by constraining local governments from being able to responsibly permit critically needed warehouses and logistics use projects throughout California, irrespective of any environmental mitigation, electrification or technological investments made to use low- or zero-emission equipment on-site, based on outdated standards.

More Extreme Than CEQA

AB 2840 is an extreme policy that casts aside CEQA, one of the most protective environmental laws in the nation, and all other environmental laws and regulations in California that ensure responsible development, in favor of a wholesale development ban.

The CalChamber explains in its letter that existing laws and regulations already require qualifying logistics use projects and warehouses to comply with a plethora of applicable local, state and federal environmental laws, such as the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Regional Air Quality Management District (AQMD) rules and regulations, uniform building codes, fire codes, and of course CEQA, which ensures any potential impacts like increased traffic, noise or air impacts are fully disclosed and mitigated.

In other words, the CalChamber states, existing law already forces new projects or the expansion of an existing facility to undergo the most rigorous environmental analysis and mitigation measures in the country.

“It is why developing in California, whether it is a housing or a warehouse project, is one of the most difficult places in the country to build in,” the CalChamber said. “AB 2840 creates arbitrary ‘ban zones’ throughout California without any consideration for the specific project and its actual impacts on the communities.”

Inconsistent with Governor’s Executive Order

Last year amid unprecedented global disruptions to the goods movement supply chain, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N-19-21 to alleviate congestion at California ports and ease supply chain issues. Specifically, the Executive Order highlighted that shipping container dwell times and street dwell times for containers were more than double the normal average due to bottlenecks further downstream in the supply chain, including insufficient warehouses to undock cargo.

AB 2840 is inconsistent with the Governor’s Executive Order to create short- and long-term solutions to the supply chain problem by depriving local governments of their land use authority to approve critically needed warehouses and other logistics use projects in their jurisdiction, the CalChamber stressed in its letter.

“Local governments are responsive and held most accountable to their local constituents, and should retain authority to determine what types of projects and economic development are needed and wanted in their community, where best to site them and how to ensure mitigation measures if needed are appropriately implemented,” the CalChamber said.

Staff Contact: Adam Regele