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Last Mile Warehouse Bills and Proposed Special Permit
Friday, February 24, 2023

Last week, a trio of bills related to last-mile warehouses were introduced by Council Member Alexa Avilés, and co-sponsored by Council Members Jennifer Gutiérrez (District 34, Williamsburg), Sandy Nurse (District 37, Bushwick), Selvena Brooks-Powers (District 31, Far Rockaway), Julie Won (District 26, Astoria) Shahana Hanif (District 39, Gowanus/Park Slope); and Lincoln Restler (District 33, Downtown Brooklyn), Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and Brooklyn BP Antonio Reynoso. At the press conference, it was expressed that these bills were introduced in order to combat the proliferation of last-mile warehouses in low-income communities of color who are subject to more air and noise pollution as a result of the truck traffic. 

  1. Intro 923: This bill requires the Department of Transportation (“DOT”) to study the impact that truck and delivery traffic generated by last-mile facilities have on local communities and infrastructure, and generate a report of the same. The report would be due 2 years after the effective date of the bill, which would occur immediately upon passage. The report would also be made public in order to show “the impact that delivery vehicle traffic generated by last mile facilities have on the communities they are situated in.” The report must:

    • Identify the location of each last mile facility.

    • Estimate the average amount of delivery vehicles arriving and departing on a weekly basis and disaggregated by type of vehicle.

    • Estimate the impact of delivery vehicle traffic on the street infrastructure within 1-mile of each facility including but not limited to: traffic delays or congestion, parking spots occupied by vehicles, and impediments to the use of street infrastructure around each facility.

    • Identify streets around the facility negatively impacted by the facility.

    • Estimate the cost imposed by such burdens on the community.

    • Determine mitigation steps and cost of such steps.

  2. Intro 924: This bill requires DOT to study street design in order to limit or reduce the use of streets in residential districts by commercial vehicles, and generate a report of the same. The report would be due on December 31, 2023, and – if the bill is passed – it would take effect immediately. The report would be required to include the following:

    • Utility and feasibility of designing streets in residential districts (1) so that they are inaccessible to commercial vehicles or to those of a certain size or weight, and (2) using “traffic calming measures” so that commercial vehicles or those of a certain size or weight are discouraged from using such streets.

    • Feasibility of (1) preventing access by, and (2) designing streets in residential districts that discourage, commercial vehicles or those of a certain size or weight in residential districts, while permitting emergency vehicles, moving trucks and other essential vehicles.

    • Consequences of (1) changes in street design including impacts on street drainage and underground utilities, and (2) rerouting commercial vehicles through other streets, including impacts on local traffic network connectivity.

    • Use of traffic cameras to enforce compliance with local truck routes.

    • Collecting data on how commercial vehicles, particularly trucks, use streets in residential districts and projections of such future use.

  3. Resolution 501: This bill requires top maritime importers to city ports to commit to making streets greener by reducing truck traffic and using marine vessels for last-mile deliveries throughout the City. This bill does not state an effective date. The bill cites to the following statistics and makes reference to the following facts:

    • Per a 2019 report by DOT, “approximately 89% of the 365 million tons of cargo that enter, leave or pass through the City is transported by truck each year with a total of 125,621 truck crossings into Manhattan per day and 73,583 trucks driving through Brooklyn daily, mostly between the hours of 7AM and 7PM” and further, that “total freight tonnage is expected to grow by 68 percent to 540 million tons by 2045.”

    • Many buildings in the City lack sufficient off-street loading docks which cause congestion, and additionally, that delivery trucks are responsible for “nearly half of the nitrogen oxide emissions and approximately 60 of the fine particulates from all vehicles adding up to 7 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States”

    • There is no current active maritime service that freights consumer goods directly to the boroughs, which has caused a heavy reliance on delivery trucks.

    • The Blue Highways pilot program can “alleviate some of the City’s truck congestion by utilizing the City’s waterways and creating opportunities for cargo ships to bring various freights, including shipping containers and truck trailers to City marine terminals throughout the boroughs and removing delivery trucks from the City’s streets” in order to reduce air and noise pollution for city residents.

All three bills have been referred to the City Council Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. As of today, these bills are not yet listed on future Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure meeting agendas, which are currently scheduled for February 24 at 10am and March 9 at 10am. The Sheppard Mullin Land Use and Environmental teal will continue to watch for when these bills are added to the calendar for discussion.

These bills are just the latest in efforts to restrict or reduce last-mile warehouse development. Councilmember Alexa Avilés, along with Assembly Member Marcela Mitaynes, UPROSE, The Point CDC, El Puente, and Red Hook Initiative, and the New York Environmental Justice Alliance, filed a text amendment application on September 30, 2022, with the Department of City Planning that would require a Special Permit for Last Mile Warehouse use in NYC. This text amendment would classify Last Mile Warehouse Use as Use Group 16, and only permit such use in C8, M1, M2 and M3 zoning districts by special permit. Thus, if this text amendment is adopted, Last Mile Warehouse use would no longer be as-of-right in these zoning districts. As of today, this text amendment application has not yet been noticed or certified as complete, thus the public process has not begun. Given the difficulty and enormity of conducting an environmental analysis for the text amendment, it is possible that the introduction of the above-described bills are intended to assist in that process.

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