Giant mountain of concrete chunks, debris sparks concerns among San Bernardino residents

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- A giant mound of concrete chunks and debris sits across the street from dozens of homes in the Verdemont community in San Bernardino, drawing the ire of residents in the neighborhood.

"I actually call it concrete mountain," said resident Richard Hernandez. "It's massive, you can see it from the freeway."

Hernandez says homes have been planned for the vacant land near Verdemont Drive and Palm Avenue for more than a decade, with little visible sign of progress. But about four months ago, he said dozens of dump trucks started rolling in and out of the neighborhood, dumping chunks of concrete on the land.

"Lots of noise and crazy amounts of dust," said Hernandez. "We have 650 loads of concrete you can see behind me. You can see the rebar still sticking out of it, so it hasn't been cleaned properly."

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Hernandez said he has been told plans are to build between 35 and 45 homes on the site. But his primary concern lies with the plans for the developer to grind the concrete materials on site.

"That can cause a lot of damage, and huge problems for our lungs. It's a big issue, especially if you have asthma already," he said.

These plans are also upsetting to City Councilman Henry Nickel, who represents the ward in which the project is planned. It's unclear when grinding may begin, as Nickel has learned that the property has recently been sold.

"This is a residential neighborhood," said Nickel. "Why are we processing concrete in a residential area, especially this amount of material?"

Nickel said not only is he concerned about the potential grinding operation, but how it got to this point in the first place. He claims San Bernardino city staff approved the stockpiling operation without proper bonding. He said the 35,000 tons of concrete comes from a Redlands warehouse that was destroyed during a massive building fire in June.

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"It was a very intense fire that occurred, and we have no idea what may be in the concrete," said Nickel. "I know as far as I'm concerned, I am going to demand that material be moved and processed off site."

For the time being, no grinding has taken place. According to neighbors, there has been no activity on the site for approximately two weeks. And that brings up the other concern: what if the developer abandons the property, and just leaves the concrete?

"It could certainly end up in litigation," said Nickel.

Eyewitness News reached out to the San Bernardino city manager's office and Oxbow, the developer of the land. Neither immediately responded to our requests for comment.
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