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Impact of Distribution Centers on our Community

​We have researched the effects of distribution centers on communities like our own. Relevant news articles and government documents are not hard to find.  Included here are excerpts and links to several excellent articles that explain unexpected economic repercussions, including effects on roadways and other infrastructure, along with how the job market is affected. Other articles describe increased traffic, air pollution, noise pollution, and serious health effects from distribution centers developed too close to residential areas.  You will quickly see that the detrimental impact to our community far outweighs any positive economic benefit for Morgan Hill's future.

Economic Issues

Truck Car Park

City to Limit Large Warehouses to Protect City Infrastructure and Attract Other Types of Businesses

One truck is equal to 8,000 cars

Any developer planning to build a trucking-intensive warehouse in Kent Valley, WA will need to put on the brakes and make a U-turn. Kent City Council unanimously approved a land-use zoning ordinance to limit any new large warehouses. City leaders are looking to change the valley from less of a warehouse center and more of an aerospace center or similar industries that bring in more tax revenue and fewer trucks that quickly wear out the roads. New buildings will be restricted to no more than one dock-high loading door per 40,000 square feet of gross floor area. The footprint area of new buildings is limited to 125,000 square feet. “It’s a policy for the amount of trucking activity,” said the city long range planning manager, in her report to the council, “One truck is equal to about 8,000 cars when it comes to impact on our pavement. And those costs are borne by the city, which puts us in a difficult fiscal situation to keep that infrastructure maintained.” Council and staff would like to attract a wider-range of businesses to undeveloped land rather than recent interest shown by developers to build more warehouses.

Person Taping Box at Warehouse

How Many Taxpayer Dollars Is a Warehouse Job Worth?

Low pay, grueling work

Local tax incentives have helped fuel Amazon’s rapid growth of its distribution network in this country. In 2015 and 2016 alone, local governments committed roughly a quarter billion dollars in subsidies to Amazon facilities, according to Good Jobs First, a progressive nonprofit that tracks subsidy awards. Amazon raked in another $600 million in the decade leading up to 2015. In many cases, government officials offered tax breaks with little or no public discussion about wages or working conditions.  As the retailer expands to new areas in its effort to dominate same-day delivery, more cities and counties will have to ask themselves: How much public money is an Amazon warehouse job really worth? “The jobs Amazon creates in these warehouses are not good jobs. Even the direct hires are relatively low paid, and the work is grueling,” said co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit that’s been critical of tax subsidies for large national retailers. “The notion that investing this kind of money in an Amazon warehouse as a long-term economic development strategy is really incorrect.”

Image by NeONBRAND

Fulfillment Centers Not Good for Regional Economies - Study by Economic Policy Institute

Centers are taxpayer subsidized

A study completed by the Economic Policy Institute, reports that Amazon fulfillment centers don’t create a boost in local economy as promised. The findings, contrary to Amazon’s claims about positive job growth, indicate that fulfillment centers opened in counties over the last 15 years are not generating broader economic growth. Amazon asserts their fulfillment centers will bring thousands of jobs to a city or county. Many of these developments, however, are taxpayer subsidized. The study reports that Amazon has received an estimated $1 billion in state and local subsidies in exchange for hundreds of jobs indicating it isn’t working out financially for taxpayers. Data analyzed to measure employment in counties where fulfillment warehouses opened showed a small reduction in overall employment countywide, which further supports the EPI’s thesis that fulfillment warehouses don’t bring job growth. The EPI study concedes that some jobs are created but it’s unlikely they are making a significant impact on regional economies. 

Image by Dan Meyers

City with Two Large Distribution Centers Ponders Need for Tax Increase to Improve City Services

DC tax revenue not coming back

City of Redlands, CA faces fiscal challenges so severe the City Council might propose a sales tax increase on the November 2020 ballot. Redlands is home to two Amazon distribution centers that generate a fortune in sales, yet the bulk of the sales tax from those centers goes to the state. The city’s property tax revenues are expected to rise modestly this year because of new construction, increased property sales and higher assessed valuations. At the same time, sales tax revenue is expected to be flat or even decline thanks in part to online shopping. That has a negative impact on municipal government. Assembly Bill 147 enacts provisions granted in a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which upheld the state’s right to collect sales taxes from an online retailer even though it has no physical presence in the state. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Newsom. It’s estimated that cities could receive a boost in sales tax revenue of 1.8 to 3.5 percent once the new law is fully implemented in coming years, but the reality is there’s little interest or incentive in Sacramento to send this revenue back to local communities.

Environmental Concerns


Cyber Monday Shopping Polluting Small Town; Lawsuits Showcase Dark Side of E-commerce Boom

Big toll on communities

As the rapid growth of e-commerce has created a seemingly insatiable demand for logistics facilities, this town in Southern California has become one of the nation’s largest hubs for warehouses. Even though it measures just 6 square miles, Bloomington already has four large warehouses. “There’s no bigger hotbed for this issue than the Inland Empire area of Los Angeles, which has seen a massive proliferation of warehouses,” says staff attorney for Earthjustice, an environmental law firm. “It’s under the guise of adding jobs, but if you look under the hood, it’s exacting a big toll on communities, and changing the landscape of the area.” Earthjustice filed a lawsuit against the Board of Supervisors, alleging the review process for a recent project, specifically the Environmental Impact Report, does not meet standards of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and did not properly factor in air pollution and traffic impacts.


Harbor Gateway Neighborhood Fighting Massive Distribution Center

Strange city planning process

Residents in a Los Angeles suburb are pushing for a delay in the approval of a massive distribution center in their neighborhood, citing “a strange city planning process that deliberately overlooked concerns of residents", including air and noise pollution and how much traffic the development will generate since the builder is seeking approval to allow 24/7 operation. Traffic and air quality studies, paid for by the developer, concluded the 466,402 SF project poses no significant environmental issues or health concerns.  Opponents are challenging this finding and want an independent environmental/traffic analysis. Some residents fear community concerns are getting little or no attention. One resident commented that “trucks will go right past my bedroom door. It’s going to kill me literally.” 


Attorney General Intervenes in Fresno Residents' Lawsuit Against Industrial Park Project

Lacks Environmental Review

Plans to develop a 110 acre industrial park directly across from a Fresno residential community and elementary school have been interrupted by a lawsuit filed by residents against their city. They argue that the approved project poses significant hazards from increased traffic and pollution and the city did not fully evaluate potential ill effects that the project would have on nearby residents. California’s Attorney General intervened on behalf of the citizens to void Fresno City Council's approval of the project, issuing an injunction to prevent the city or developer from moving forward on the project until a full environmental review is conducted and measures are taken to offset any negative effects on neighbors. A spokesperson representing residents stated "like all Fresno residents, we deserve clean air to breathe and water to drink in our homes and a healthy neighborhood for our children to grow up in."

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Storing Harm: Health and Community Impact of Goods Movement, Warehousing, Logistics

Threat to public health

Environmental advocates are following growth in the logistics industry with great concern: These giant warehouses are a sprawling and ugly land use that overwhelms the scale of adjacent residential and commercial neighborhoods. Also, distribution center activity significantly impacts public health due to particulate pollution emitted by trucks transporting goods to and from these facilities. The fastest growing cluster of warehouses serving the logistics industry lies in the Inland Empire. Unchecked growth in this network of warehouses is transforming the landscape of the valley and health of its residents in a dramatic fashion. Farmland has been converted to immense, windowless warehouses surrounded by asphalt and chain link fencing—and some of the worst air pollution in the nation. This study highlights environmental and health issues surrounding distribution centers and  suggests guidelines for cities to adopt regarding these developments.


Warehouses as an Environmental Justice Issue, by USC and Union of Concerned Scientists

Pollution, traffic, road damage

Driven by the fast-paced e-commerce industry, warehousing construction has grown dramatically over the past 10 years in the US and bringing with it, big negatives like air pollution, noise, traffic safety and road damage predominantly to low-income, non-white suburban neighborhoods. Much of this growth is taking place in suburban areas with abundant cheap land apart from traditional industrial clusters.  Developers are searching for locations with low land rent, low-wage labor pool, weak political power and favorable public policies. The exposure of residents, especially, the young and elderly, to truck emissions, like NOx and particulate matter, cause asthma and other serious respiratory issues. The trend of warehouse construction in these areas with high residential density is now drawing the attention of the public, academia and policy makers.


Planning Board Rejects Warehouse Application After Hearing Residents' Concerns

Couldn't ignore safety concerns

Project plans to build a pair of sprawling distribution-type warehouses next to residential neighborhoods were unanimously rejected by Lodi, NJ city planners. Residents shared concerns over soil contamination, safety, traffic congestion, air and noise pollution. Up to 6 tenants could occupy the new buildings and allowed to operate 24 hours per day.  The developer for the project funded traffic studies predicting an increase of 506 trucks per day. Without knowing specifics on the tenants and hours of operation, this value seemed skewed to Lodi City Planning Board Members. They all voted to reject the application, saying they couldn’t ignore the safety concerns for residents or the likely bumper to bumper traffic that would result.  

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