FRESNO — Neighbors in South Fresno refused to back down from continued environmental injustice that has been perpetuated by years of the city’s land use and zoning practices around their homes. On Thursday, the Fresno City Council voted to approve a settlement between residents and a local developer which affords residents some protections from environmental hazards that would come from the construction and operation of a new warehouse building just west of the Amazon distribution center.
Residents in this area of Fresno have faced existing threats from toxic diesel emissions, overflowing traffic, dust plumes, light spill and increased ambient temperatures radiating from the millions of square feet of warehouses that operate 24-7. Residents’ water supplies are also threatened as several private wells have gone dry or are on the cusp of doing so.
The settlement approved signals that community voices are crucial to the process of development. Going forward, the city and industry cannot continue doing business as usual. Rather, they must continue to partner with residents to meaningfully address decades of racially discriminatory practices through community-driven solutions.
“This agreement is a first step by the city to extend essential protections to South Fresno residents from industrial development that the city has planned and facilitated in residential neighborhoods,” Ashley Werner, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability attorney, said. “Through the South Central Specific Plan process, the city has the opportunity and responsibility to continue this work by correcting unjust land-use practices and put into place the protections and investments that ensure all residents have a healthy environment, stable housing, and equitable economic opportunity.”
Amongst the protections secured by residents, a community benefits fund will conduct home upgrades that minimize air, noise, dust and light impacts from construction and operations of the current facilities. City water and wastewater services will also extend to homes where wells are going dry and septic tanks are failing. Street and road improvements will also be made to make it safer for residents to walk and drive.