October 12, 2023
Ms. Laura Friedman, Chair
California Assembly Transportation Committee
P.O. Box 942849-0044
Sacramento, CA 94249-0044
Dear Chair Friedman:
On behalf of Inland Action, a 60-year-old non-profit organization of business and community leaders with representation throughout the Inland Empire, I write to express our deep disappointment at your disparaging characterization of San Bernardino and, by inference, the entire Inland Region. Your recent comments at the Mobility 21 Summit on September 29 about transportation and housing shocked and upset our elected representatives and community leaders in attendance, which included this statement:
“…it’s driving people into untenable awful lives of having to live in San Bernardino and drive into Los Angeles where the jobs are.”
We also recall your comments during the 2021 Mobility 21 Summit where you stated:
“When we know what sprawl communities and giant highways leads to, I would think that anyone who represents those communities would do their best to find all kinds of other solutions and reject the ones that have failed leading to soulless suburbs and horrible traffic conditions.”
The over 50 businesses, hospitals, institutions of higher learning, attorneys, accountants, and others in Inland Action do NOT find this region “soulless” but rather vibrant with strong communities whose citizens love living outside the Los Angeles congested urban center. Our members employ hundreds of thousands of employees. We are home to:
- Esri, the international leader in geographic information systems.
- Stater Bros Markets, a privately held supermarket chain operating 170 stores in California.
- Garner Holt Productions, the world’s largest manufacturer of animatronics with customers from Disney to the U.S. military.
- Ontario International Airport, one of the fastest-growing airports in the nation with excellent accessibility and connectivity.
- Cal State San Bernardino, which has one of the top two cyber security programs in the U.S.
- As well as a variety of unique mining deposits and recreational destinations serving Southern California and the world.
And I could go on. It is abundantly clear that you don’t know the Inland Empire.
Our San Bernardino County Transportation Authority is on the cutting edge of passenger rail service. Through their steadfast commitment, along with the cities in the eastern section of our county, we have established commuter rail service that is unique in the nation and will soon be powered by zero-emission, hydrogen battery self-powered units. These trains will operate on existing Metrolink rail, support zero carbon goals as a clean energy source, and offer a more powerful and efficient energy output. Communities along the train route will experience improved air quality, a cleaner living environment, and quieter operations as a result, which will be extremely beneficial for communities near this passenger service.
Your comments about highways may be relevant for highly urbanized areas, but not so for a region that provides vital support for logistics and goods movement throughout the United States. Our role in sustaining the economic vitality for Southern California and the State of California should not go unrecognized. It is unfortunate that you have not made the time to accept invitations to our region to learn about the unique needs that exist here and the creative solutions being employed. It is disheartening that the Chair of one of the most important committees in the Assembly has such a misguided impression of our region and to know that critical legislative decisions affecting our region are being led by someone who seems to hold the Inland Empire in such disdain.
The Inland Region again invites you to visit our area, starting in San Bernardino, in hopes of giving you a realistic understanding of who we are, the uniqueness of our County, and the opportunity to meet some of the amazing leaders who call this region home. I will reach out to your staff in coming weeks to seek such a meeting.
Chief Executive Officer
CC: Inland Empire Caucus Members
Assembly Transportation Committee Members
Assembly Leader Robert Rivas
Governor Gavin Newsom