California’s Inland Empire, a sprawling region east of Los Angeles once known for orange groves and grape vines, is now the cradle of America’s warehouse boom. The rise of online shopping has caused a dramatic change in the landscape here and across the country – every billion dollars in online sales increases demand for 1.25 million square meters of storage space.
There are now an estimated 1 billion square feet of warehouses in the Inland Empire alone, according to a new analysis from the Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability at Pitzer College. That’s nearly 37 square miles of warehouses.
The sober concrete boxes are relatively new grafts in the area, according to an animated map published by Pitzer. If you look at the map, which was created using county-level data, you’ll see that warehouses appeared between 1975 and 2021, although development really picked up speed in the 1990s with the advent of e-commerce.
E-commerce giants like Amazon continue to eat up space in the region. “Over the past 20 years, I have watched as open country and farmland became a deadlocked sea of warehouses in the Inland Empire,” writes Susan Phillips, director of the Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability at Pitzer, in a 1 May op-ed in which Los Angeles Times.
“The Inland Empire is at a breaking point,” she writes.
The region is a kind of canary in the coal mine for the rise of warehouses in America. It has become one of the largest storage centers in the country, largely thanks to cheap land near highways, train stations, and the busiest port in the western hemisphere (the Port of Los Angeles).
What you can’t see on the map is what life is like when your neighbor is a warehouse that sends and receives truckloads of equipment and other goods every day. Check out for that The edge‘s Photo essay on life in Bloomington, California. In Bloomington, some residents are fighting to stop camp developers from bulldozing farms, gardens and a unique rural culture shaped by immigrant families who moved to the area for its open spaces.
But the inventory proliferation doesn’t stop there. Bearings are now the most common type of commercial buildings in the US, outstripping the offices. So how communities in the Inland Empire are dealing with the influx of warehouses could be a lesson for others. Local activists for example have pushed controls Tackle the pollution that warehouses attract with diesel trucks. The Inland Empire is the region with the worst smog in the United States, and some residents are fighting over warehouses to electrify their fleet of trucks.
“The fight appears to be happening in a hundred locations at once,” Phillips writes in her commentary. To truly see the full extent of the social and environmental costs that can come with even more warehouses, these local struggles need to be pieced together, as Pitzer’s researchers do with their mapto tell a bigger story.
https://www.theverge.com/23053387/billion-square-feet-warehouses-california-inland-empire-online-shopping What a billion square feet of warehouses look like