Which Inland Empire cities have the most warehouses? – San Bernardino Sun

You don’t need a map to know the Inland Empire has a lot of warehouses.

But a new online map shows which Inland locales have the biggest logistics footprints.

The map, compiled by a Riverside environmental consultant as part of a collaboration with Susan Phillips, a professor of environmental analysis at Pitzer College’s Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability, ranks Inland communities by how heavily they’re inundated with warehouses.

“I wanted to show regionally how individual cities’ and land use jurisdictions’ collective decisions (are) impacting the whole region,” said Mike McCarthy, owner of Radical Research LLC and an adjunct professor at Pitzer in Claremont.

This map ranks Inland Empire cities by the presence of warehouses within their limits. The map compiled by Riverside environmental consultant Mike McCarthy uses publicly available data from county assessors’ offices (Screenshot of map).

“It’s clear to anybody who drives on the roads how widespread the problem is,” he said. “But collectively, they’re all making this decision (to approve more warehouses). And I want to just illustrate where it’s happening the most.”

The Inland Empire, with its abundance of flat, undeveloped land, its nexus of freeways, rail lines and airports, its closeness to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and a largely blue-collar workforce, has long been prime real estate for the logistics industry.

But in the past few years, the number of Inland warehouses has mushroomed amid a soaring e-commerce demand boosted further by the coronavirus pandemic. The number of Inland “big box” distribution centers grew 54% from 463 in 2009 to 711 in 2020, according to Statista, a market and consumer data firm.

That means more jobs and economic activity in a region that’s been left out of the tech and health care booms. But it also means more truck traffic and diesel trucks spewing air pollution that’s blamed for early deaths, health problems in adults and stunted development in children.

But not all oppose the local proliferation of warehouses.

Paul Granillo, president and CEO of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, said the goods movement industry is the region’s largest employer and supports more than 350,000 jobs.

“The Inland Empire came out of the COVID recession faster than Los Angeles (and) faster than Orange County,” he said. “And it’s all due to the fact that the logistics sector became absolutely essential to people’s life and survival during the COVID pandemic.”

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McCarthy is a member of Riverside Neighbors Opposing Warehouses, which he said opposes “industrial zoning (and) warehouses next to residential communities and in general the over-saturation of warehouses in the Inland Empire.”

The map uses information from county assessors’ databases in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Geospatial files show the location and size of land parcels and, with the help of the databases’ internal coding, “we identify whether we think each individual parcel is a warehouse in a standardized way,” McCarthy said.

That information is merged with data on city boundaries to show logistics clusters in cities and land overseen by the March Joint Powers Authority, a public agency tasked with redeveloping former March Air Force Base property. The map doesn’t include warehouses in unincorporated communities. Land-use decisions in those areas are made by county boards of supervisors.

According to McCarthy, the authority has the highest density of warehouses in the Inland Empire.

“I was trying to show how bad March JPA is” when making the map, said McCarthy, whose group is fighting plans to build warehouses on vacant authority land near Riverside’s Orangecrest and Mission Grove neighborhoods.

Grace Martin, the March authority’s executive director, said via email that it “has been, and will continue to be, a responsive and responsible partner to surrounding communities and our March Air Reserve Base.”

“We inherited federal lands from the U.S. Air Force with the mission of creating jobs in Riverside County,” she said. “Commerce and logistics were envisioned on our lands since 1996, in alignment with the logistics nature of March Air Force Base.”

McCarthy said the map also shows large warehouse clusters in Ontario, Fontana, Rialto, Rancho Cucamonga and what is now San Bernardino International Airport. Ontario came in as the city with the biggest logistics presence, with Fontana, Rialto, Chino and the March authority rounding out the top five.

“It’s happening on the borders of all of these jurisdictions in this weird way,” he said. “But it seems like each of them get away with a little bit by putting these warehouses on the edges of their communities next to their neighbors and then the neighbors are doing the same thing on the other side.”

What also stood out to McCarthy was how warehouses were concentrated near March Air Reserve Base, the San Bernardino airport and Ontario International Airport. To McCarthy, that means the logistics boom is “not serving local customers and local people with e-commerce.”

“I don’t know if that makes us the nation’s garage or … storage shed,” he said. “But it really doesn’t feel like the local communities are benefiting from this footprint when we’re an intermediary in the supply chain. And it’s not clear the Inland Empire is benefitting enough (compared to) the negative consequences of these warehouses.”

While the Inland logistics industry supplies the nation, “Southern California alone has … one of the largest population centers in the world,” Granillo said.

“Everything that you and I are sitting on and wearing at some point was on a truck. That’s just the way that an economy works. So we can’t just magically say we want that to disappear unless you basically want the economy to disappear.”

But McCarthy sees a weak spot in relying too much on logistics.

“I feel like this saturation of warehouses really makes us susceptible to a downturn, either due to political instability or any sort of disruption of the goods movement industry,” he said.

“We don’t have resiliency in terms of our economy to any sort of disruption to this industry.”


These are the cities with the most warehouses in terms of square footage, according to the map created by Riverside environmental consultant Mike McCarthy.

1. Ontario

2. Fontana

3. Rialto

4. Chino

5. March Joint Powers Authority (The public agency tasked with redeveloping former March Air Force Base property)

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