This Could Be The Start Of Something Big

            If you’ve been keeping up with the Kardash, er, Licking County’s western development, otherwise known as Intel, you are aware that Amazon bought up 400 acres of land for $117 mil last month. And the beat, er, development goes on. Serendipity finds two news articles covering the same topic from different sides of the continent. Writing for the Advocate, Maria DaVito headlines: Jersey Township Trustees considering rezoning that would pave way for 5 warehouses (2-5-23). Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Rachel Uranga headlines: Warehouse boom transformed Inland Empire. Are jobs worth the environmental degradation? (2-5-23). Analysis considers these items of note: Inland Empire names part of San Bernardino county, Ca. Overlay site maps provided by Uranga and DaVito show similar proximate relationships of commercial development and residential properties. Warehouse is the name given to the large box structures which can be utilized as manufacturing facilities, logistics or distribution centers. “According to the proposal from the developer, the plans call for five warehouse structures on about 71 acres just south of Ohio 161. All five buildings combined will total more than 1 million square feet, according to the plans.” (DaVino) “There are 170 million square feet of warehouses planned or under construction in the Inland Empire, according to a recent report by environmental groups. And despite fears of a recession, demand hasn’t ebbed.” (Uranga) Both sides of the country gave the same “pro jobs” spiel. Uranga adds: “But the rapid transformation of semirural areas into barrens of concrete tilt-up “logistic parks” is encountering a backlash. Residents are questioning whether they want the region’s economy, health, traffic and general ambiance tied to a heavily polluting, low-wage industry that might one day pick up and leave as global trade routes shift.” “The logistics industry has moved into a void left as higher-wage jobs in manufacturing, defense and aerospace disappeared, converting largely agricultural and vacant land into the hub of America’s retail economy. The industry added more jobs in the Inland Empire than in any other part of the state. In 2022, it created 24,400 jobs in the area; in 2021, it created 27,400, according to John Husing, an economic consultant who specializes in logistics in the Inland Empire. Median wage ranges from $18.57 an hour for warehouse workers to $24.93 for drivers, he said.” “But other economists say many of those jobs don’t pay close to a living wage. The median hourly pay in the region is almost $5 below the California average, and turnover is high because of the grueling, nonstop work. “Even with this impressive growth in the Inland Empire, logistics-sector jobs are generally lower-paying jobs, and they’re at very high risk of automation,” said Gigi Moreno, an economist at the Southern California Assn. of Governments. “You have automation and artificial intelligence in the logistics sector displacing workers, which means that the industry may not be able to support as many jobs as we do today. And this is even before considering any of the moratoriums on building warehousing. This is just the nature of what’s going on in the sector.”” “But smog in the Inland Empire — largely caused by big-rig exhaust — is the worst in the nation, according to the the American Lung Assn.” “Thirty years ago, there were 1,600 warehouses in the region, creating 140,000 truck trips daily, said Mike McCarthy, who runs Radical Research. The mapping found that the industry now generates more than half a million daily truck trips — nearly four times the diesel traffic as the population has almost doubled. The researchers also found that the average warehouse 30 years ago was about half the size of those built today, which average 500,000 square feet.” “The diesel trucks that serve warehouses spew out a cocktail of pollutants, including particulates that lodge in human lungs. Studies have linked the pollution to asthma, decreased lung function in children and cancer. “We know diesel exhaust is a killer,” said William Barrett, national senior director of clean air advocacy for the American Lung Assn. “It’s one of the most damaging things that your lungs can experience.”” Analysis doesn’t believe the Advocate would dare print something about the harmful effects of diesel pollution, let alone remind readers, in the dead of winter, about each summer’s growing number of air quality alerts for central Ohio. Besides, as one of DaVino’s photographs illustrate – it’s only vacant farmland, ready to be developed! ““A lot of time, kids wake up with bloody noses on their pillows,” she [Amparo Munoz] said. “We have the worst air quality. We have gridlock. We have streets and communities that were never built for global logistics. We’re basically building, on top of failed infrastructure, a global network.” “Muñoz didn’t start off as an environmentalist. A trained engineer, she spent some of her time in warehouses checking and maintaining equipment. “I really believed that if you let businesses regulate themselves, they do the right thing,” she said.” (Uranga)


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