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Tacoma, WA: Rally to stop the mega warehouse

By Haze Bender

Tacoma environmental activists opposed mega warehouse.

Tacoma, WA – On Sunday, September 17, over 60 people filled Oakland Madrona Park to rally against the mega warehouse complex that’s approved to be built in South Tacoma. The rally had several speakers from the local organizations opposed to the warehouse, and community members, including families who were at the park, gathered around the speakers to have snacks, make art and express their opposition to the warehouse.

This rally is in response to a decision that was made earlier this year. In April, the city of Tacoma approved land use permits filed by real estate company Bridge Industrial to build a mega warehouse at 5024 South Madison Street in Tacoma. Such permits allow for construction on the historically polluted, but currently undeveloped site. This includes paving over 5.4 million square feet of green space and installing over 2 million square feet of warehouses. This space is zoned heavy industrial due to historic usage, but is now surrounded by residential houses, schools and small businesses. The site also sits atop an aquifer, and contains many species of trees, plants and animals.

Organizations at the rally included Climate Alliance of the South Sound (CASS), 350Tacoma, The Conversation253, Industrial Workers of the World, La Resistencia, and Earth Ministry.

“It is no coincidence that they proposed this warehouse for South Tacoma and not for North End,” CASS member Gemini Gnull pointed out, referring to the wealthier and whiter areas in north Tacoma. “South Tacoma is a historically redlined neighborhood – this is racism plain and simple.”

The city of Tacoma approved land use permits without doing a health impact assessment, and the development goes against many of the rules that the city must follow, such as those laid out in the HEAL Act and Tacoma’s Climate Action Plan. An appeal has been filed to require the health impact assessment, and they are currently awaiting a decision. There is no limit on how long this could take, but they expect a decision by the end of the month.

This approval for land use has many community members concerned about negative health outcomes for their families and the environment.

“The warehouse is going to affect my son’s health, whose lungs are not fully developed,” Black Panther Party member Ovunayo X explained. “There’s definitely that health worry there, and they are not doing the health assessment, which is a horrible thing to not do.”

Many other attendees expressed their desire to preserve the proposed site as a green space.

“I think that our green spaces are very valuable and should be protected,” said community member Rose Stacy, “the earth was here before we were. Once you destroy these areas, it’s not something that can just be recreated, so it’s important to protect them as they are already naturally. Putting a warehouse there is the opposite of what we should be doing.”

After the rally, over 15 people took to the surrounding neighborhood’s streets to knock on doors, hand out literature, and raise awareness about the warehouse. For many Tacoma residents who will be impacted by this project, this is the first time they’re hearing about it.

“The city knows if they tell us about this project, we’re going to oppose it,” Gnull said, explaining why the group was going door to door. “The city and Bridge Industrial aren’t listening to us right now, but we are going to make them listen.”

#TacomaWA #EnvironmentalJustice #CASS