Amazon will not continue its warehouses in Seattle’s Rainier Valley
Amazon does not plan to build warehouses in Seattle’s Rainier Valley, a company spokesperson said Friday night, on the eve of a planned protest by neighborhood activists.
“We are not pursuing any sites in the Rainier Valley,” spokeswoman Alisa Carroll wrote in an email. “We evaluate a variety of factors when deciding where to develop future sites to better serve our customers. We often explore several sites at the same time and make adjustments according to our operational needs. »
Amazon filed documents with the city of Seattle in April 2021 outlining a plan to replace a Lowe’s home improvement store and a Pepsi factory with two small-scale warehouses covering 220,000 square feet on 23 acres of land.
The proposal quickly drew criticism from groups who argued that the space could be better used to improve the quality of life in the community and that the warehouses could lead to pollution and other environmental issues disproportionately affecting an area. with a large population of people of color.
Despite Amazon’s new message, more than 60 people showed up to a pre-scheduled rally in an abandoned Starbucks parking lot in South Seattle. They were still upset with the company’s proposal to build a pair of warehouses near the Mount Baker light rail station and Franklin High School.
After the protest, South Seattle community organizer Travonna Thompson-Wiley, 31, said Amazon tried to “sneak” into the community.
She said an industrial site will not preserve the youth culture in the community. She doesn’t want high school kids giving up on their passions and ending up in a factory with poor working conditions
She said the company was not in touch with the communities that live in the area. She said she wanted young people in the community to understand that they should pursue their passions and not fall into a factory job because it’s close and accessible to them, which the previously planned warehouse would have. summer.
Amazon has been repeatedly accused of poor working conditions. Activist groups claimed that Amazon falsely claimed that the number of workplace accidents was falling despite a 20% increase in 2021 and repeated fines for safety violations.
“Our community is talking about the fact that they need to have access to more affordable housing. They need access to support and education,” Thompson-Wiley said.
The Mount Baker area is almost like a highway, so it’s important to continue development that will make it more of a community rather than a drive-thru, said Jamil Suleman, a 38-year-old artist and community organizer from South Seattle. . Instead of a warehouse, the area should be used to build a park, youth center or community gardens that will preserve culture and communities of color, Suleman said.
Nationally, Amazon is more likely to build warehouses in neighborhoods where residents are primarily people of color, according to a December 2021 analysis from Consumer Reports.
Of Amazon’s warehouses, about 69% are in communities where a greater share of people of color live within a one-mile radius. About 57% are in neighborhoods with a higher proportion of low-income residents.
Thompson-Wiley said she and other community members want to see Amazon officially withdraw the permit and have the city rezone the area to prevent another big business from building on it.
“We want the community to continue to work together — to be in community with each other to find powerful people on the outside and continue to amplify our message,” she said.
This month, Amazon backed out of a deal for a cargo hub at Newark Liberty International Airport, after advocacy groups and unions who wanted Amazon to commit to labor agreements and a referral refused. zero emissions in the installation.
Activists in a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania suburb also protested Amazon’s expansion in the area, raising concerns about noise, traffic and environmental impact and accusing Amazon of failing to comply with ordinances. local authorities regarding lighting, parking and zoning. The company withdrew its plans in March.
Amazon now plans to sublet some of its warehousing space, after its strong expansion left it with extra capacity, the company announced in May.