On Wed. June 14, community organizers and residents living near the San Bernardino International Airport voiced disapproval to the Inland Valley Development Agency (IVDA) regarding the housing element of the proposed Airport Gateway Specific Plan (AGSP).
Their objections were directed at the housing relocation plan outlined in the AGSP, which the IVDA forecasts may displace up to 2,500 residents living in approximately 760 residential units around the airport.
The AGSP is a proposed commercial and industrial project, led by the cities of San Bernardino and Highland and the IVDA to rezone and transition about 679 acres of residential and local lots to create a “Mixed Use Business Park” near the airport.
During the meeting, residents and organizers raised the critical need of the IVDA and local cities to address the potential consequences of this project on nearby tenants. According to the People’s Collective for Environmental Justice (PC4EJ) and Warehouse Worker Resource Center, people are already receiving eviction notices.
“We need a strong relocation plan approved promptly for all the residents that are going to be displaced by the Airport Gateway Specific Plan,” said Daisy Lopez, a community organizer with the Warehouse Worker Resource Center. “This isn't something that can wait. We know that evictions are already happening right now and people are at risk of facing homelessness. There is already a housing crisis and not creating a strong relocation plan is just going to worsen the issue.”
Brenda Morales, a 15-year resident of Highland, says her family’s living stability is hanging in the balance after receiving an eviction notice from her landlord. Morales, her husband and 10-year-old son now have to leave the property by June 28. She said it’s been a “stressful process, to say the least.”
“Our landlord shared that he was making improvements to the roof on the property. And suddenly, we just stopped hearing from him. No answers to calls or texts,” she shared in a phone interview. “Not long after, we got a notice in the mail about the Airport Gateway Specific Plan and then an eviction notice.”
Morales, who works part time as a home caregiver and whose husband is currently on disability due to being partially deaf, is concerned their limited income won’t net good options for a new place to live.
“There’s very little chance we get a good place at an affordable price.”
Following the IVDA meeting, the Frontline Observer spoke with Alicia Aguayo, the communications manager with the People’s Collective for Environmental Justice, about the relocation plan.
“Today we heard the members of the IVDA try to say that it’s not their responsibility, that Mike Burrows is over here trying to have this conversation to engage each of the different cities,” Aguayo said. “But, right now, Highland is not thinking that it’s a priority, so they’re not necessarily going to prioritize that. But they [IVDA] need the cooperation of both cities.”
Michael Burrows, chief executive officer of the IVDA, shared in an emailed response that while his agency included a relocation plan component in the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) last December, the responsibility to adopt and implement a relocation plan may primarily fall to the cities of San Bernardino and Highland.
“That draft [EIR] is still under review by the public and other responsible agencies. That draft document still includes a relocation plan component; however, we did recently receive feedback from the City of Highland that they were not supportive of IVDA retaining that provision in the Draft EIR as it pertains to their City jurisdiction in the Airport Gateway Specific Plan.
“IVDA continues to work with the City of Highland and the City of San Bernardino on this important issue, as it is the cities that would eventually need to adopt the Airport Gateway Specific Plan.”
Anthony Victoria contributed to this story