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Amazon, FedEx, and UPS Deliver New NYC Warehouses, Raising Environmental Concerns
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Amazon, FedEx, and UPS Deliver New NYC Warehouses, Raising Environmental Concerns

UPROSE Executive Director Elizabeth Yeampierre speaks at a press conference calling for the state to invest $200 million to turn the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal into an offshore wind port and clean energy hub, Oct. 28, 2020.

Online shopping makes holiday shopping simple, but local impact can be much more difficult.

Companies are increasing the number of warehouses and last-mile facilities in the city to meet growing shipping demand. These facilities are largely unregulated and do not allow the public to weigh in on climate, safety, and health risks.

This is pure environmental racism, according to Elizabeth Yeampierre (executive director of UPROSE), a Sunset Park-based environmental justice organization. This is contrary to the way everyone thinks about how we move forward when everyone is talking about racial equity, equity, and green jobs.

UPROSE Executive Director Elizabeth Yeampierre speaks at a press conference calling for the state to invest $200 million to turn the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal into an offshore wind port and clean energy hub, Oct. 28, 2020.

Elizabeth Yeampierre, UPROSE
Claudia Irizarry Aponte/THE CITY

Advocates for environmental protection and community groups are pushing for the state to intervene. This sets the stage for possible legislative or regulatory action in order to tackle fulfillment centers, last miles facilities and the truck traffic as a new administration enters City Hall.

On Wednesday, elected officials including Public Advocate Jumaane Wil, Brooklyn Borough President-elect Antonio Reynoso, and Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes, (D-Brooklyn), will meet with environmental justice advocates in Brooklyn to demand that regulation of last-mile facilities be included in a new legislative session.

According to local groups and elected officials, at least five facilities supporting electronic commerce are currently in development in Brooklyn’s Red Hook and Sunset Park.

Amazon will use three of them, while UPS will use one and FedEx the other. They join similar developments in the city such as East New York, the South Bronx, and around Queens.

Advocates for environmental justice, members of the local community, and elected officials assert that the neighborhood regulations were not set up to accommodate the new type of facilities.

It is not on anyone’s agenda to stop last-mile delivery facilities being sat. But, in a Wild West scenario, you can build them on any land that isn’t zoned for manufacturing. That’s also not where we need them to be, said Eddie Bautista (executive director of the Environmental Justice Alliance). This is something that every city and state must acknowledge.

The Wednesday release by the city Department of Transportation will see a proposal to improve the freight network, which was reviewed by THE CITY. It encourages increased use of waterways for goods transportation, more bike deliveries, and other measures to balance economic concerns with those of the neighborhood.

The challenge will be passed on to the Adams administration.

Prime Real Estate

Online shopping grew by More than one thirdNationally, 2020 will be a year of more activity than 2019, thanks to the pandemic that has accelerated an already upward trend. The third quarter of 2021 saw activity rise by almost 7% compared to the previous year. The demand is forcing local infrastructure to expand.

According to Daniel Tropp (founder of AEBOV, an industrial real estate brokerage firm), the most desirable spaces are those that are close to water and have easy access to highways. According to a Consumer Reports, those areas tend to be lower-income neighborhoods, the same neighborhoods where Amazon’s warehouses are found. investigation found.

It was their prime real estate. But to us, it was like an forced adoption of these businesses. Increase trafficMelinda Perkins, district manager for Community Board 5, East New York, stated that the area is already overflowed with commercial vehicles. The East New York area is home to two Amazon distribution centers as well as a FedEx facility.

Amazon was building large fulfillment center along Columbia Street in Red Hook, Dec. 13, 2021.

Amazon is building a new facility on Columbia Street in Red Hook, December 13, 2021.
Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

Perkins and members of Community Boards 6 in Red Hook, Sunset Park and 7 in Red Hook joined forces to tackle the proliferation of distribution centres.

E-commerce companies use large trucks and small sprinter vans. electricTo transport packages from warehouses to your doorsteps. According to Matthew OConnor, spokesperson for UPS, UPS plans its delivery routes in order to reduce the number of vehicles on roads and expand its e-bike use.

FedEx and Amazon have not responded to requests for comment.

In addition to growing congestion safety hazardsFor pedestrians and cyclists, and potential damage streets and buildings as trucks rumble down residential corridors, increased vehicular vehicle traffic threatens neighborhoods already burdened with disproportionate pollution.

Amazon had a fulfillment along Bay Street in Red Hook, Dec. 13, 2021.

Bay Street in Red Hook is a sign of the time
Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

The second-largest source for planet-warming greenhouse gases in the city is the transportation sector.

It’s almost like having a lot of little power plants roaming the streets,” said Kevin Shen, Northeast Transportation Policy Analyst at Union of Concerned Scientists.

New York City has the highest levels of diesel polluting in the state. This is mainly because of the presence of Black, Hispanic, and Asian New Yorkers. ExposedTo Harmful particulate matter at disproportionate rates. High levels of particulate matter are linked to COPD and asthma, as well as other health conditions such as COPD and asthma. Higher death rates from COVID-19

Sunset Park and Red Hook already have higher than average levels of fine particulate matter. AccordingTo the Department of Health in the citySimilar to heavily travelled areas like Hunts Point Mott HavenBronx.

Leadership failure

Karen Blondel, a Red Hook resident and 2022 Loeb Fellow at Harvard University School of Design said that the rules that allow ecommerce facilities to flourish are outdated and counterproductive to local resilience efforts.

These include the cities Red Hook Coastal Resiliency ProjectUPROSEs Sunset Park Green Resilient Industrial District vision.

Blondel said that although e-commerce is here for the long term, regulations must be in place in cities like New York to ensure it blends in with the residents.

The growth of distribution centers is a concern for city agencies, but they don’t have a plan to direct their development.

This is not a situation that is static. There are many reasons to believe that it will get worse. Hank Gutman, DOT Commissioner, referred to the proliferation of e-commerce as one of the most pressing transportation issues we face as a country in the 21st Century.

Department of Transportation Commissioner Henry Gutman helps unveil a new bike line crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, Sept. 14, 2021.

Hank Gutman, Department of Transportation Commissioner
Hiram Alejandro Durn/THE CITY

The DOT and the City Economic Development CorporationThey said they were committedTo ChangeThe final leg of the supply chains.

The DOT’s future freight plan outlines that the agency wants to encourage cargo bikes and off-peak delivery. Hunts Point is also being considered for expansion. ProgramThis program offers incentives to replace diesel trucks with rebates

The DOT is also interested in using waterways and railways for goods transport. Renovations are proposed for South Brooklyn Marine Terminal and Red Hook Piers as well as the Arthur Kill Lift Bridge (and Cross Harbor Rail). To finance these improvements, the city will apply for federal dollars.

However, some feel the de Blasio administrations efforts are too late, and they hope for change with the incoming Adams administration.

Katie Walsh, a Sunset Park resident who chairs a Community Board 7 subcommittee regarding last-mile trucking facilities, stated that there has been a failure in leadership to address these issues. This should be an Eric Adams mayoral matter.

We must create rules

Adams’ spokesperson did not respond to a request to comment. Tiffany-Ann Taylor (Vice President for Transportation at the Regional Plan Association) said that the enormity of the challenge requires political will to devise a multi-pronged strategy. Taylor was a former deputy director for freight programs at the city DOT.

Taylor said that this conversation is about economic growth, union workforces and transportation safety. Taylor also spoke about large companies with deep pockets, whose business is crucial to the functioning of your city.

A FedEx worker delivers a package on the Upper East Side during the coronavirus outbreak.

FedEx worker delivers a package in the Upper East Side.
Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

She advised that the city should not wait for a breaking point to move. This is due to e-commerce growth. The action should be further up the supply chains, before locals notice truck traffic in their streets.

These things are often discovered after the fact,” said Danny Peralta (executive managing director of The Point), a Bronx community non-profit. We must fight preemptively. We must create rules.

According to Joe Marvilli a spokesperson for the Department of City Planning under Mayor Bill de Blasio there are no plans to alter zoning in manufacturing areas. He warned of negative economic impacts if businesses were involved in lengthy public reviews.

The city could however adopt a zoning amendment to permit last-mile facilities. This would be a recognition of them as distinct from other warehouses.

Real Solutions

This would be similar to the amendment. The City Council adopted the following resolutions in 2018That requires special permits for hotels built in light manufacturing areas, or the amendment Adopted in 2017Self-storage facilities

The West Coast could inspire action at the state level in New York: the South Coast Air Quality Management District is an agency that oversees greater Los Angeles. Passed rulesThat warehouses are considered indirect sources for greenhouse gas emissions and that facility operators must reduce truck emissions.

Brooklyn City Council candidate Alexa Avils speaks at a rally in City Hall Park supporting female candidates, July 13, 2021.

Lexa Avils speaks during a rally at City Hall Park in support of female candidates, July 13, 2021.
Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

Alexa Aviles, Brooklyn Councilmember-elect, stated that we need to regulate the industry and find real solutions to how products are moved around the city. Allowing the proliferation of fossil fuel trucks all over the city is totally against net zero’s ambitions.

Bautista said that the holiday season is a good time to seriously consider the future of ecommerce facilities. We should not only think of loved ones who made purchases, but also the host communities.

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