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Jurupa Valley truck stop hit with local opposition, city council vote tonight

Jurupa Valley, CA is building a badly needed truck stop.

The locals don’t seem to want it.

A brouhaha has erupted over a proposed Pilot Flying J Travel Center that would bring 195 parking spaces to the region. A city councilman and an environmental coalition have filed two separate appeals of the local Planning Commission’s approval of the project.

The city council will hear those appeals tonight.

“I’m anticipating a large and hostile crowd,” said Joe Rajkovacz, director of government affairs for the Western Trucking Association. The makeup of the council changed after the November elections, he said, and the two new councilors are not as friendly to the project as the ousted incumbents.

The 12-acre Pilot travel center would include fuel dispensers for 12 diesel trucks and eight passenger vehicles, a convenience store, a drive-thru fast food restaurant, as well as the coveted parking spots.

Rajkovacz said testimony he plans to deliver this evening will focus on the industry’s well-documented need for truck parking. The Los Angeles basin is home to a booming warehouse sector, he said, but only two truck stops: the TA and Petro in Ontario, about twelve miles from Jurupa Valley.  

“Their lots are full,” Rajkovacz said.

“Everyone wants what’s in my trailer, but you don’t want to give me a safe landing. It’s NIMBY, not in my backyard.”

The Jurupa Valley Planning Commission approved the Travel Center on the basis of its economic impact. A city analysis showed the venue could bring 79 full-time jobs and more than $17 million for city coffers in the next 20 years.

Opponents of the project point to the environmental impacts. The site is only 1,190 feet from the Mira Loma neighborhood — a community of around 130 homes — and about three-quarters of a mile from Jurupa Valley High School.

Last week, the Jurupa Valley school board voted unanimously to oppose the project.

An environmental impact statement said the truck stop would expose residents to “significant” emissions from diesel trucks, including nitrogen oxide pollutants.

“We’re not opposed to the warehouses, the truck stops —  it’s where they are siting them,” said Jean Kayano, associate director of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, which appealed the Flying J center.

Thousands of trucks go by the Mira Loma community every day, Kayano said, and “putting a truck stop a mile away is only going to bring more.”

The Flying J would also compromise a new restricted truck route that was supposed to serve as a community mitigation measure, Kayano said. The route is not related to the truck stop project.

The city worked with Pilot to address other community concerns, the Press-Enterprise reported. The underground fuel tanks storing unleaded gasoline, for example, would be made of triple-wall fiberglass.

Brian Berkson, a city councilor who filed a separate appeal against the Travel Center, could not be reached for comment. Chris Barajas and Lorena Barajas, the two new councilors, could not be reached either.

Parking issues are top of mind for truckers around the country. There has not been a new truck stop in the LA basin in decades, Rajkovacz said, and drivers have no place to park.

Pilot Flying J did open a new Travel Center in Brawley, about 150 miles from Jurupa Valley, earlier this month. The new facility is Pilots 23rd location in California and has 29 truck parking spaces.

Opponents of the Jurupa Valley project ignore the fact that California has the most aggressive pollution laws in the country, Rajkovacz said.

“Environmentalists,” he said, “have lost their collective minds.”

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Linda Baker, Staff Writer

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves staff reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes early-stage VC, freight-tech, mobility and West Coast emissions regulations.