Frustrated Rialto residents and community groups are taking to the streets, walking neighborhoods to collect signatures from registered voters who disapprove of the City Council’s decision to amend the Pepper Avenue Specific Plan to allow for warehousing.
They have sights set on stopping the contested resolution through a proposed ballot measure by aiming to amass enough signatures to get it placed on an election ballot next year.
According to Brenda Parker, one of the lead petitioners, the decision to change the Pepper Avenue Specific Plan should be decided “by the people.”
“The community is fighting and we are going to win,” she said. “Residents want a family-friendly development out of the Pepper Avenue Specific Plan. We are clearly disappointed by the decision of three council members to support these changes. They are not in the best interest of the City of Rialto.”
Last month, the Rialto City Council voted 3-2 to certify an earlier vote to make changes to the Pepper Avenue Specific Plan by including a 470,000 square foot warehouse as part of the development project. The changes allow for land to be rezoned to light-industrial to accommodate future warehouse and commercial development on the 24 acre site near Frisbie Park and the 210 Freeway.
Councilmembers Andy Carrizales, Ed Scott and Rafael Trujillo voted to make changes to the plan, which now allows up to 735,000 square feet of warehouse space, and Mayor Deborah Robertson and Councilmember Joe Baca voted against it.
According to Rialto City Clerk Barbara McGee, state law stipulates that in order for a proposed ballot measure to be sufficient, it must have signatures from 10% of registered voters in the city. That information is based on the county’s most recent data reported to the Secretary of State’s office.
If they successfully gather the necessary 10% of signatures from registered voters, the City Council will subsequently vote to determine the specific election ballot in 2024 where the measure will be placed. The primary election is scheduled for March 5, 2024, while the general election is set for November 5, 2024.
Parker says petitioners are aiming for 6,000 signatures and hopes residents and volunteers can gather that number by July 26 -- two days before the deadline mandated by the City Clerk’s office.
Ana Gonzales, executive director of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ) and longtime resident of Rialto, says residents across the city are beginning to rally around the petition efforts.
“The community is fired up. I think people are angry that the folks they trusted and voted for to protect their health did not listen and instead did the opposite and benefitted the warehouse developers instead of their own community.”
Linda Chapman lives on E. Margarita Rd, about one mile from the proposed site. Like many issues in the past, the people of the neighborhood have always found a way to find solutions for residents, she shared.
“And when we succeed, this measure will set precedence,” shared Chapman.
Residents seeking to sign the petition challenging the Pepper Avenue Specific Plan decision can call 909-521-8448 or visit the headquarters located at 227 N. Riverside Ave. Parker says the headquarters operates seven days a week, from 10 am to 7 pm, for residents.