Council Votes 7-1 (Gabelich Dissenting) To Endorse Port's "Green Port" Policy Without Port Commitment To No Net Increase in Pollution; Gabelich Questions Continued Support For Fed'l Projects Expanding Port's Capacity; Several Councilmembers Pledge To Revisit No Net Increase Issue in Coming Weeks
(March 23, 2004) -- The LB City Council has voted 7-1 (Gabelich dissenting, Reyes Uranga momentarily absent) to endorse a Port-written "Green Port" policy that does not commit to "no net increase" in air pollution...at the same time as several Councilmembers simultaneously pledging to address the "no net increase" issue via separate Council action, possibly as soon as April.
And a member of the City Council's Transportation & Infrastructure Committee has publicly questioned City Hall support for federal projects expanding the capacity of the Port of LB.
Although Council endorsement of the Port's "Green Port" policy was not legally required, on March 8 Councilmembers Bonnie Lowenthal and Dan Baker agendized an item asking the Council to do so, producing a 9-0 Council vote seeking preparation of a supportive resolution. The City Attorney-drafted resolution returned on the March 22 Council "consent calendar" (not scheduled for discussion) and was removed for discussion and a separate vote by 8th district Councilwoman Rae Gabelich.
At the outset of the item, City Attorney Robert Shannon said that on the morning of the Council meeting (March 22), his office sent a revised title for the proposed Council resolution. It adds that in addition to expressing Council support for the "Green Port" policy of LB Harbor Dept., the Council is referring that "ongoing policy to the Harbor, Tidelands and Transportation Infrastructure Committee for discussion and input." [The revised title specifies in detail what the Council directed on March 8]
Councilwoman Gabelich indicated she favored amending a "Whereas" clause in the Port policy that specifies "measurable" goals and defines when "periodic" reports will be provided...and added that she is very concerned about "lobbying efforts that are being done to secure federal money to enlarge the Gerald Desmond bridge to accommodate larger ships."
I've said this for well over a year. This is going to drive the increase for needs for expansion of the 710 freeway, which will be obsolete when it's completed...I'm very uncomfortable with supporting something that I don't believe everyone is on the same page with...I'd like to ask for an amendment to this resolution to include language to urge the Port of Long Beach to adopt a no net increase policy regarding air pollution, using the baseline that was previously endorsed when AB 2042 was proposed.
City Attorney Shannon didn't raise a legal objection but said he had a "logical" problem with what Councilwoman Gabelich proposed:
It doesn't have anything to do with policy; the policy is for you to decide. If in fact that's what you want, then you have to vote down this resolution because you would not be approving the Green Policy of the Harbor Dept. What you've just said is not consistent with the Green Policy as it's currently articulated by the Port. And that's fine, then you would vote against the resolution, and the resolution you would be suggesting would be something of a wholly different form which we can put together if that is the wish of the majority of the City Council.
Mayor Beverly O'Neill then asked if there was a second to Councilwoman Gabelich's motion; there was silence.
Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal then said:
I do share your concerns, Rae, but I am not supportive of that suggestion right now. I do believe that in several weeks, at some point, state Senator Lowenthal is going to come and discuss his proposed legislation which I think will address the no net increase, and we'll be able to talk about it and pass a resolution at that time. But I still want to stay with my own personal feeling that I think the Harbor has come up with a good policy. I will look forward to how they are measuring the improvement. I think that's very important...I will be asking those questions, hard questions, I expect to have some results, and this Council is going to watch very carefully what the results are, but I do want to stick with the resolution as it stands. [to the Mayor] That was a motion.
Councilwoman Reyes Uranga stated:
...I would like to work with Councilmember Gabelich to maybe come back in two weeks...and if we want to deal with the no net increase, that really is not even addressed in the Green Port policy, which I think is the problem. We want to encourage good behavior, so I would like to support the Green Port policy from the Port, but in fact there is that unanswered question as to where we're starting from or where we're going, and so if Councilmember Gabelich would, I would commit to working with her...in two weeks to try and bring something that would address that issue of where we're starting in terms of no net increase...
In my eyes, one is a Port policy, and the other is City Council direction and policy...We've never quite been on the same page and I think this is no different, and that if we can say the Council, that we send a message to the Port, and the Harbor Commissioners that this is what we'd like to see, they didn't particularly ask us for input on the Green Port policy and so, although I support this as a beginning, I think that we as a Council, because of the responsibility we have to our constituents probably need to take a little bit of a stronger role...
Councilwoman Gabelich reiterated:
...My concern is if this passes, and then the lobbying efforts go back to Washington, and then they say the Council supported their Green Port measure and put pressure on to bring the money to do all the things that I said I'm concerned about...
City Attorney Shannon then said:
One alternative would be to vote no to the resolution...The other alternative would be to vote for the Green Policy with the understanding that this is a generic policy. No Net Increase, for example, would not be inconsistent with the Green Policy. It would be more specific and tighter, less general, than the Green Policy. So it's not quite true to say that if you were to come forward in a few weeks from now -- and I'm not suggesting that you should, but I'm just saying if you did -- if you came forward with a resolution that urged the Harbor to support a No Net Increase policy, for example, that would not be inconsistent with a Green Policy. It would be more specific and perhaps tighter than the Green Policy as it exists now, but it would not be inconsistent with it.
So what I'm trying to say in a long winded way is, by voting for the resolution [endorsing the Green Port policy] tonight, you would not be acting contrarily if you were to come forward two weeks from now with further proposals to tighten up the Green Policy.
Vice Mayor Jackie Kell said that since state Senator Lowenthal would be at the City Council in the coming weeks to discuss the direction he feels should be taken, and it's somewhat the direction that Councilwoman Gabelich thinks we should be taking also, she favored passing the resolution. "It's not like this is in concrete. We can tweak it and adjust it and rearrange it. I would like to move that we pass the resolution and discuss some of these issues that concern you, Councilwoman Gabelich, and Senator Lowenthal's visit will be a perfect opportunity to possibly send another message to the Port, or request anyway.
The Council vote was 7-1 to adopt the Council resolution endorsing the Port's "Green Port" policy and refer that ongoing policy to the Council's Harbor, Tidelands and Transportation Infrastructure Committee for discussion and input. Councilwoman Gabelich voted no; Councilwoman Reyes Uranga was momentarily out of the Council chamber.