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South Tacoma community rallies to stop the mega warehouse

By Talison Crosby

Tacoma protest against the mega warehouse complex.

Tacoma, WA – On Sunday August 20, several dozen community members, organizers, labor leaders and activists gathered in Tacoma’s South Park to protest the mega warehouse complex slated to be constructed just a few blocks away. Gemini Gnull, coordinating director of the Climate Alliance of the South Sound led the crowd, chanting “People power!” and “No to the warehouse!”

In early 2023 the Tacoma Planning and Development Services Department permitted the development of Bridge Industrial’s 2.5 million square foot warehouse complex in South Tacoma. “The quiet approval of the mega warehouse by Bridge Industrial was done without a single health impact study despite obvious concerns of extreme air pollution,” said Isaac Pennoyer, member of the South End Neighborhood Council. “Already, South Tacoma has the highest rate of heart disease in all of Pierce County.”

These warehouses, if they are built, will be surrounded by residential houses in historically redlined neighborhoods. This will disproportionately impact working class Black, Chicano, Latino, indigenous and Pacific Island peoples in the area.

Barbra Church, a community organizer with The Conversation 253, lives in one of the would-be impacted neighborhoods. Church voiced her concerns about the impact of the warehouses, saying, “Traffic to and from the warehouse will increase from 5 to 12 thousand vehicles a day. One of the main trucking routes has several school crossings putting the health and safety of our children, parents and neighborhoods at risk. We need a Health Impact Assessment!”

The EPA, Washington State’s health department and ecology department, and the county’s health department have all also raised concerns over this project, yet the city of Tacoma still approved it.

The International Brotherhood of the Teamsters Joint Council No 28. and United Food & Commercial Workers Local 367 are also opposed to the project due to the low-paying, non-union jobs the warehouse is suspected to bring. In April 2022 the Teamsters Joint Council published a letter saying, “the City should have more carefully studied the hydrological impacts of so much impervious surface being placed atop a sensitive aquifer. The mitigation documents do not take into account, or adequately address, the potential long-term impacts of this project.” The Climate Alliance of the South Sound plans to bring together the Teamsters, UFCW, and other local unions in a united front of organized labor to combat the warehouse.

“The good news is, this fight is not over. We can fight and we can win,” Gnull said in her closing remarks. “When we all come together we can show the city ‘Hey we’re not going to accept this.’ The way we win this is by standing up and fighting together!”

The rally was punctuated by a park cleanup that spanned multiple surrounding blocks. Community members used garbage bags, gloves and grabbers to collect litter for 45 minutes before returning to chat, rest and enjoy the park.

#TacomaWA #EnvironmentalJustice