News in Depth
NLB Residents Revolt Over 24 Hr. Port, Insist On EIR
(July 23, 2005) -- In the first organized public opposition to an industry policy that has advanced without serious question or opposition by much of local officialdom, NLB's Coolidge Triangle Homeowners Association has come out swinging against an industry and Port of LB-touted "Pier Pass" program that -- starting today (July 23) -- invites 24-hour Port operations.
In a firmly worded letter (text below) to the LB Harbor Commission, PierPass executives and local elected officials, amplified by a press release and a newly launched website (www.polb.org, "People of Long Beach," a sting to the common PoLB acronym for LB's Port), NLB's Coolidge Triangle neighborhood insisted that the Ports of LB and L.A. stop the PierPASS OffPeak program until an Environmental Impact Report [EIR] is prepared and circulated to impacted communities and health and noise impacts are mitigated.
"[W]e have voted unanimously at our general meeting on July 20, 2005 to insist on suspension of the PierPASS OffPeak program until such time that the following issues are addressed," said the letter, enumerating:
- "PierPASS will prepare an Environmental Impact Report on the OffPeak program and present it to the effected communities along the I-710 corridor.
- Demonstrate how any health impacts to the community that may result from this program will be mitigated.
- Provide suitable noise mitigation created by the additional evening and early morning truck traffic.
- Demonstrate how changes in prevailing winds during nighttime hours will affect potential impacts to the Coolidge Triangle Neighborhood and all other neighborhoods along the I-710 corridor."
LBReport.com posts the text of the group's letter below.
Reached for comment, PierPass spokesman Ryan Rauzon said air quality concerns were misguided. "PierPass gets idling trucks out of the Ports and off the freeways and that by itself will improve air quality," said spokesman Ryan Rauzon. "Even when the volume of trucks increases, having an off-peak program will help trucks and help the freeway and the port system by expediting the logistics chain. That's a good thing for L.A. County and the southland. What's happening now is there are bottlenecks as trucks stay in the area and idle. Studies have been done ad nauseum showing that idling trucks release more toxins and more particulate matter," he added.
Regarding the residents' call for an EIR, PierPass spokesman Rauzon said, "There's nothing new being built here. An EIR usually covers those kinds of changes. Those trucks, whether they're leaving at 8 p.m. or 4 p.m. are still going to be there." He added that PierPass would be glad to sit down with homeowners and discuss their environmental concerns about the program.
LBReport.com posts PierPass comments in more extended form below.
In an emailed release, Roger Holman, President of the Coolidge Park Homeowners Association, said, "We had to do something to make sure people understand we know that the OffPeak program is just a way for the Ports to double their volume over the next few years, then we'll have as much daytime traffic as we have now, plus the same number of truck trips also at night."
Mr. Holman added, "We have no information whatsoever as to how much more health impacts there might be from changes in prevailing winds, not to mention twice as many trucks very soon."
In the Coolidge Triangle Homeowners Association letter dated July 21, 2005, mailed to LB Harbor Commission president Doris Topsy-Elvord, LB Councilman Val Lerch, L.A. Councilwoman Janice Hahn, Bruce Wargo, President/CEO PierPASS Inc. and Thomas Stephenson Pierpass CFO, the neighborhood group wrote:
We, the residents of the Coolidge Triangle neighborhood and members of the Coolidge Triangle Homeowners Association would like to express our concerns about the PierPASS OffPeak program.
We have two very significant areas of concern with this
program and how it will affect the quality of life, especially in the Coolidge
Triangle area and other communities near the I-710 freeway.
Those concerns are as follows:
1) We are concerned that this program will cause
significant local air quality issues and therefore create a threat to our health
as the number of truck trips during nighttime periods increases along with the
increase in the total number of truck trips.
2) We are also concerned that this program will cause
the noise levels emitted from the freeways to increase significantly throughout
the nighttime due to the increase in truck traffic.
The following facts are presented:
There are some homes in the Coolidge Triangle
neighborhood area that are as little as 50 feet from the 710 or 91 freeways, and
many, many more that are within 1000 feet.
The OffPeak program claims to reduce traffic and
pollution by shifting up to 50% of daytime truck traffic to other times of the
night, when trucks will impact freeway commuter traffic less and be able to move
more quickly. The claimed goal of
PierPASS is that 45% (but no more than 50%) of all port traffic will be moved to
OffPeak hours. Yet, the Ports of
Long Beach and Los Angeles have stated that their volume will double in as
little as 5 years, meaning the current 35,000 truck trips per day could reach
70,000 truck trips per day.
The OffPeak program claims that pollution will be
reduced because the trucks on the 710 freeway moving at high speeds will emit
less diesel pollution per mile than they do at slower speeds, yet no actual
numbers have been provided that proves this claim or even quantifies the
The California Air Resources Board indicates a thorough
analysis of air quality Impacts should be done for any scenarios where traffic
volume of over 20,000 heavy-duty diesel trucks per day is within 1000 feet (300
meters) of housing. An anticipated
increase of 35,000 truck trips per day over a 5-year period easily meets this
At a PierPASS meeting on June 18, 2005, Roger Holman
expressed a number of these concerns during an open mike session and also asked
a number of questions, including why no Environmental Impact Report has been
done for this project. While
multiple employees of the PierPASS outreach program were given his contact
information, he has received no response to that question whatsoever.
The PierPASS outreach representative that was speaking actually did agree
that we probably have a valid issue with regards to the anticipated increases in
The CEO of the PierPASS organization, Bruce Wargo,
indicated to one of our elected representative offices that his organization
would contact Roger Holman right away about these concerns and they have not
A representative from one of the PierPASS outreach
organizations attended the June, 2005 general meeting of the Coolidge Triangle
Homeowners Association and promised to return with answers to the July, 2005
meeting to report back on some of our concerns.
No follow-up visit from any PierPASS outreach organization has occurred.
The SCAQMD MATES II study indicates carcinogenic risk
in the tri-county basin area from ambient measurements is approximately 1,400
per million people, and that 70% of that risk is attributed to diesel
particulate emissions. A
significant increase in truck traffic during the nighttime and early morning
hours will expose residents to increased cancer risk, and children to increased
risk of getting asthma, especially during the hot summer months, when people
leave their windows open all night to cool off.
It is for these reasons that we have voted unanimously
at our general meeting on July 20, 2005 to insist on suspension of the PierPASS
OffPeak program until such time that the following issues are addressed:
PierPASS will prepare an Environmental Impact Report on the
OffPeak program and present it to the effected communities along the I-710
Demonstrate how any health impacts to the community that may
result from this program will be mitigated.
Provide suitable noise mitigation created by the additional
evening and early morning truck traffic.
Demonstrate how changes in prevailing winds during nighttime
hours will affect potential impacts to the Coolidge Triangle Neighborhood and
all other neighborhoods along the I-710 corridor.
Coolidge Triangle Homeowners Association
The group also hand-delivered a copy of its letter to State Senator Alan Lowenthal's LB office...and posted the letter verbatim on Mr. Holman's newly launched website...which makes its views unambiguous.
The front page of www.polb.org (as of July 23) displays the title, "It's About the People of Long Beach"...and shifts to the following message when the cursor rolls over the title: "Port Volume Increases, Breathe Through the Lungs of [the] People of Long Beach."
Meanwhile, on the front page on the Port of LB's website (www.polb.com), a June 7 press release announces the start of PierPASS on July 23, 2005.
"PierPASS also confirmed OffPeak’s night and weekend hours of operation and announced an accelerated rollout of the program, establishing five full-service shifts during the first week of operation," the Port of LB press release says. The Port's press release continues:
Marine terminal operators at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports created PierPASS in 2004 in response to community and industry requests to address congestion and air quality issues in and around the ports. By providing a financial incentive for cargo operations on nights and weekends, OffPeak aims to reduce daytime truck trips and improve air quality.
The OffPeak shifts will be Monday through Thursday from 6:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The first OffPeak shift will be Saturday, July 23. Beginning on Monday, July 25, PierPASS will assess a "Traffic Mitigation Fee" on all loaded containers entering or exiting marine terminal gates by road during peak daytime hours (Monday through Friday, 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.). The fee has been set at $40 per TEU (20-foot equivalent unit), or $80 for a 40-foot container.
...PierPASS had initially planned for a ramp-up period, with off-peak shifts added gradually. However, the terminal operators have determined that launching all shifts during the first week will present fewer logistical challenges than a phased-in launch. The ramp-up period has now been eliminated; all 12 international container terminals at the two ports will now launch five full OffPeak shifts starting July 23.
The Traffic Mitigation Fee payments collected, minus PierPASS overhead and refunds for cargo moving during OffPeak hours, will be allocated by PierPASS to the marine terminals to help offset their incremental costs to operate the extra gates. The estimated annual cost to the terminal operators of operating these extra gates is $156 million to $160 million. PierPASS is a not-for-profit company.
PierPASS will not assess a fee for empty containers and chassis, domestic containers, or transshipment to other ports. Nor will it assess a fee for intermodal containers that depart or arrive via the Alameda Corridor for import or export, or that pay an ACTA fee. The beneficial cargo owners (shippers, consignees, or their agents) are responsible for payment of the fee. The trucking community and water carriers are not responsible for the payment.
After July 23, the Traffic Mitigation Fee will be required for cargo movement through the ports during peak hours. Only registered users will be able to pay this fee.
Comments in Response to Residents' Opposition
Reached for reaction to residents' opposition by LBReport.com, PierPass spokesman Ryan Rauzon promptly took his first look at www.polb.org as we spoke. Noting that he'd had only moments to review the points in the Coolidge Triangle group's letter, Mr. Rauzon offered the following initial comments:
PierPass spokesman Rauzon: The concerns about air quality are misguided. One of the main benefits of PierPass is that it gets idling trucks out of the Ports and off the freeways and that by itself will improve air quality.
Even when the volume of trucks increases, having an off-peak program will help trucks and help the freeway and the port system by expediting the logistics chain. That's a good thing for L.A. County and the southland. What's happening now is there are bottlenecks as trucks stay in the area and idle. Studies have been done ad nauseum showing that idling trucks release more toxins and more particulate matter.
As far as air quality is concerned, PierPass is the best way to get trucks moving. The congestion on the 710, which clogs up when port at its busiest, will be improved dramatically.
Regarding noise levels, we'll be glad to meet with the homeowners' group and discuss the need to look at some of the consequences, whether they're sound issues or noise at night or the fact that they live so close to the 710.
We're happy to sit down and discuss concerns with the homeowners group about the environmental impacts of the program.
LBReport.com: What about their call for an EIR [Environmental Impact Report]?
PierPass spokesman Rauzon: There's nothing new being built here. An EIR usually covers those kinds of changes. Those trucks, whether they're leaving at 8 p.m. or 4 p.m. are still going to be there. The Port is going to continue to grow. It's the fifth largest in the world, and the four larger ones are all in Asia. It's the single largest Port in the western hemisphere. 60-70% of goods and commerce that come through the Port are to service areas outside our region. It's the most efficient economic system to get $200 billion of goods all around the United States. This Port system is not going to shrink in importance to the area or the nation, especially the western U.S.
The current situation was in dire need of some kind of answer, and industry responded with its own measure, an off-peak, because it was faced with the prospect of politicians regulating the industry for them. It's fair to say that industry's answer will be better for the community, the economy and port terminal operations than anything coming out of government. We think this makes sense and we're going to stand behind it.
There's been no shortage of outreach. We want everybody at the table, and we won't stop our outreach just because we're starting the program today.
Regarding its outreach program, Mr. Rauzon cited a July 13 PierPass release describing its actions:
..PierPASS has conducted intensive, wide-ranging efforts to inform and engage importers, exporters, shipping companies, trucking companies, truck drivers, warehouses, brokers, industry associations, community associations, community residents, political leaders and the media in advance of the launch date.
"A wide variety of stakeholders are depending on the successful launch of OffPeak," said Bruce Wargo, President and CEO of PierPASS Inc. "Political and community leaders are giving the goods movement industry a chance to address port congestion and air quality problems through a private-sector solution. In order to protect this vital engine of jobs and economic strength, the industry now needs to pull together and make this work."
OffPeak is a landmark effort to address chronic congestion and air quality issues in and around the two ports by using the existing transportation infrastructure more efficiently. Beginning on July 23, a Traffic Mitigation Fee will be charged for cargo movement through the ports during peak hours. The proceeds of this fee will be used to keep the terminal gates open four nights per week and on Saturdays. This innovative private-sector solution will help speed the movement of cargo, reduce waiting time for truckers, cut the number of trucks in rush-hour traffic, and reduce air pollution around the ports.
Since late April, PierPASS has sent more than 9,000 letters outlining the changes in port procedures to industry stakeholders, including 2,100 importers and exporters, 3,600 logistics companies, and 3,600 trucking companies. PierPASS has met with key industry groups and associations, held an industry teleconference, and met directly with dozens of city councilmembers, community leaders and other individual stakeholders.
In many of its outreach meetings, PierPASS has encountered a strong sense of ownership from groups and individuals who have long advocated off-peak port operations.
"When I first started pushing for off-peak operations two years ago, no one believed it would happen," said Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn. "Now we are only two weeks away from the start of a historic, industry-regulated program that will move goods during the nights and weekends, improving air quality and easing traffic congestion. Commuters on our freeways, residents of our Harbor Area communities, shippers who can move goods all night long and elected officials who believe in off-peak movement are all hopeful that the program will be a great success."
Outreach to Industry, Community and Media
PierPASS’s communications program for OffPeak includes three components: industry outreach, community outreach and media outreach. The industry outreach effort has targeted all links in the goods movement chain, with a particular focus on reaching the importers and exporters who must pay the Traffic Mitigation Fee and ensuring that they are registered with PierPASS. Along with direct outreach, PierPASS has worked with trade associations, shipping lines and other industry members to spread the word via their newsletters, websites and meetings.
"Along with the dramatic surge in OffPeak registration, we have seen a strong shift in the tone of the questions we are hearing from importers, logistics companies and other stakeholders," Wargo said. "Two months ago, people were still wondering whether the program would get off the ground. Now, the questions we are receiving are operational in nature as the industry prepares for the impending launch."
PierPASS has focused particular energy on informing and engaging truck drivers. The PierPASS team has handed out nearly 30,000 flyers to truck drivers at all container terminals in the two ports. On June 18, PierPASS held a truck driver’s informational meeting, with simultaneous interpretation in Spanish, attended by more than 250 drivers. Expected OffPeak benefits to truck drivers and owners include faster pickup and dropoff times, reduced exposure to air pollution during stop-and-go traffic, and increased fuel economy from driving at nighttime highway speeds.
PierPASS has also reached out to community stakeholders to explain the program and its expected changes to traffic patterns and air quality. The outreach team has made presentations to Los Angeles and Long Beach city councilmembers, the I-710 Freeway Oversight Committee, the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, the Harbor City/Harbor Gateway Chamber of Commerce, the Coolidge Triangle Neighborhood Association, the DeForest Park Neighborhood Association, and many others.
The media relations program has focused on informing all stakeholders about OffPeak and keeping them updated about changes in the program; amplifying the industry and community outreach efforts; and educating the broader business community and general public about the program. The PierPASS team has worked with daily newspapers, business publications, industry trade publications, international newswires, and broadcast media. PierPASS press releases, press conferences and media outreach efforts have helped PierPASS educate the public through more than 80 reports in dozens of local, national and international media outlets...
...PierPASS is a not-for-profit company created by marine terminal operators to reduce congestion and improve air quality in and around the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. Detailed information on PierPASS, the OffPeak program, the Traffic Mitigation Fee (including who must pay it, when it must be paid, payment methods, and credit account information) is available at www.pierpass.org
"People of Long Beach" website
Regarding his newly launched People of LB website (www.polb.org), Mr. Holman said he "got the idea during our earlier conflicts with CALTRANS and the possibility they might take our homes for the 710 expansion. [NLB neighborhood activist] Dave San Jose went to the City Council and pointed out that it really comes down to the 'people or the port'. So POLB was clearly a natural fit."
The website states in part:
"When are we going to stop expanding the port to the detriment of the community?" At August 24, 2004 Long Beach City Council meeting, Councilman Val Lerch asked the Port Of Long Beach Executive Director, Richard Steinke this very question. Councilman Lerch has confirmed that as of July 21, 2005, question has never been answered. The closest Mr. Steinke came to answering that question in the meeting was to say "we will eventually hit a saturation point and will not be able to grow any more".
If there is anyone who does not think that this is an insult to our intelligence and/or virtually a slap in the face, please contact me right away so we can discuss putting your position on this website (and we can talk about getting some professional mental health care).
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