Environmental advocates call for stricter regulations on e-commerce warehouses in NYC

Advocates say many of these 'last-mile warehouses' are located disproportionately in communities of color

Edric Robinson

Apr 8, 2024, 10:59 PM

Updated 43 days ago


Ahead of a pivotal zoning hearing at City Hall, environmental advocates gathered to demand tighter regulations on e-commerce warehouses in New York City. They argue that the rapid proliferation of these warehouses is causing detrimental impacts on communities and must be addressed by the Department of City Planning.
“We were a little disappointed to see that it wasn’t included,” said Kevin Garcia, a senior transportation planner with the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, expressing dismay that regulations on last-mile e-commerce warehouses were not included in the mayor's "City of Yes" proposal.
“Communities that live near these facilities are dealing with the traffic congestion and the air pollution caused by these facilities,” said Garcia.
Last-mile warehouses are where online orders are stored before delivery to customers. Advocates say many of these are located disproportionately in communities of color - such as Council Member Alexa Aviles’ districts of Red Hook and Sunset Park.
Meanwhile, Mayor Eric Adams and city officials promoted the "City of Yes" proposal on the steps on City Hall. It aims to update outdated zoning regulations from the 1960s.
“A set of 18 zoning changes that would update decades old zoning codes. It will modernize regulation in an effort to support new business and create jobs,” said Adams at a news conference Monday.
While acknowledging concerns about last-mile facilities' impacts on communities, a spokesperson with the mayor’s office confirmed that adding special permits for such facilities is legally prohibited under the proposal which is why it’s not included.
However, a source close to his administration said the mayor has implemented various programs to mitigate facility impacts, such as micro-distribution initiatives and cargo bike programs. Advocates believe if this isn’t regulated, it will never be fair for communities.
"We are giving the power back to the communities so that they can voice their concerns when a new facility is coming to their community," stated Kevin Garcia.

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