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Tuesday, Dec 5, 2023

Don’t Pump the Brakes

You can’t blame the Carson City Council for being a bit fed up with truck traffic.

In that city, and in communities near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, big rigs clog freeways and streets, spewing pollution while the number of warehouses, truck yards, and industrial facilities continues to grow. It has spawned a complicated relationship between the city’s key constituents – the various businesses that house, package, and transport goods flowing in and out of the ports and many of its 90,000 residents.

The economic activity generated by those businesses is vital: because it provides limited municipal services, Carson receives just 10 percent of the property taxes generated within its borders, compared to 26 percent in neighboring Long Beach and 19 percent in Burbank.

Sales and use taxes generate up to 36 percent of its budget, the lion’s share, and three times what the city generates in property taxes.

Carson needs commerce, and that makes the council’s decision last week to extend a moratorium on new and expanded logistics facilities until mid-March short-sighted and wasteful.

The city has a responsibility to residents who have complained about truck noise in their neighborhoods and damaged streets, of course. But it also has a responsibility to foster business development.

Instead of trying to halt business development, the city should be addressing the concerns raised by residents: degraded infrastructure, noise, and pollution. Those steps help all stakeholders.

In its revised moratorium, the council did make the wise choice to soften its stance on new warehouse leases, lengthening the allowed terms to seven years from the three originally proposed. That got a begrudging nod of approval from the industry.

It isn’t a solution, however.

City officials must talk with logistics companies and balance their needs in whatever policy is put forward. They must take care to ensure the new rules aren’t so onerous they hinder warehouse and trucking companies’ ability to do business.

Otherwise, those trucks and the companies that operate them may not just limit their driving on Carson’s streets; they may drive straight out of town.

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