The Vancouver City Council on Monday night took the first of two steps to delay construction of large-scale warehouses within city limits for an additional six months.
The warehouse moratorium, which first went into effect in December, applies to almost all warehouse facilities greater than 250,000 square feet — about the size of three soccer fields.
The council unanimously approved the first reading to extend the moratorium through the end of the year after city staff presented preliminary warehouse study findings at a workshop in early May.
“Extending the moratorium will allow for more time to study the differences in physical and operational characteristics between large e-commerce warehouse facilities and more traditional wholesale warehouses so we can develop code amendments that address any identified impacts and seek additional public input,” Chad Eiken, community development director for the city, said in an email.
City staff spent the first moratorium period gathering information about warehouses and distribution facilities in Vancouver, while the second moratorium would focus on gathering public input and developing code amendments.
Eiken said city staff looked into vacant lots in the city bigger than the 250,000 square feet threshold and found very few that could accommodate a new warehouse development.
“That said, several large parcels would be vulnerable to a large warehouse project becoming vested to existing standards if the moratorium is not extended to allow more time for new land use and development standards to be adopted,” Eiken said.
Eiken reminded the city council at the workshop earlier this month that the plan was always to request a second moratorium. State law allows land use moratoriums for up to six months and one six-month extension if necessary, according to a city press release.
The moratorium does not apply to the Port of Vancouver or certain sectors, including manufacturing and wholesale trade. The city council made those exemptions in February after city staff said the moratorium should focus on facilities with low-employment-per-acre density.
At the February hearing, several representatives from economic interest groups spoke against the moratorium, saying that pausing warehouse construction could deter companies from the area and stall economic development.
“We believe that such a moratorium would have detrimental effects on the local economy, supply chain and business operating in the city,” Nick Massie, a member of Southwest Washington Contractors Association’s advocacy and advisory committee, said at the hearing.
The Vancouver City Council will hold another hearing in June before voting on a moratorium extension.