(March 22, 2004) -- Later today, members of the LB City Council will vote on whether to needlessly lend their names to a policy of the Port of LB -- a landlord desperate to avoid accountability for enabling health-impacing air pollution -- while the Port lobbies for federal infrastructure to expand its activities even if they worsen pollution inflicted on families and children in LB and beyond.
The Port's insistence on an entitlement to worsen air pollution makes its expansionist position politically untenable. That's why the Port concocted a self-serving "Green Port" policy, an emptiness which fails to include any commitment to implement "no net increase" in air polluting toxics.
Two weeks ago, the Council had no legal obligation to vote on the Port's self-serving policy, much less approve it. We wish Councilmembers Bonnie Lowenthal and Dan Baker (whose records were superlative on Port air pollution) had not brought it to the City Council...but they and the Council now have an opportunity to do the right thing.
The Council should amend its proposed resolution to include language urging the Port of LB to adopt and implement a "no net increase" policy regarding air pollution (with a 2004 baseline that the Council previously endorsed in AB 2042) and withholding further Council support for federal infrastructure-expanding projects sought by the Port until the Port commits that its actions won't worsen damage now being done.
LB City Hall should not support and invite poisoned pork.
LB's elected representatives shouldn't support projects that will expand the Port's capacity without receiving a commitment that the increased capacity won't have a net effect of making pollution worse ("no net increase").
The Council has the authority to do this. The Council has the right to declare what its policies are. And the Council has no obligation to support Port-desired federal projects.
As LBReport.com previously reported, the Public Policy Institute of CA's respected economist, John Haveman, has said the Ports of LB and L.A. effectively receive major taxpayer subsidies via costly supportive infrastructure and the like. Those subsidies hide the real costs of "goods movement" including air pollution and health impacts. Like any subsidies, they artificially lower costs and invite more of what is subsidized, in this case, even more "goods movement" and more expansion projects.
The Council should draw the line now because Congress is right in the middle of considering the costly "TEA-LU" transportation bill, laden with Port-desired pork.
That federal legislation has traditionally been supported by LB City Hall, but it's not in the interest of LB residents and families to do that if the city's Port refuses to commit that those projects won't worsen things.
On March 8, Harbor Commission President John Calhoun exploded when 8th district Councilwoman Rae Gabelich displayed a drawing by a Los Cerritos Elementary School student showing a student carried on a gurney with trouble breathing.
(We hope Commissioner Calhoun takes his blood pressure medicine before learning that we intend to post the image below of an AQMD air measurement strip -- reflecting just 24 hours outside in the Bixby Knolls air along LB Blvd. -- in a prominent spot on our front page...along with a link to a downloadable photo suitable for easy copying.)
Six months ago, LB Harbor Commissioner James Hankla politely informed Councilmembers publicly that if they tried to use their lawful budget authority to ensure Port lobbying didn't undermine Council adopted policies, the Harbor Commission might reconsider sending City Hall's Tidelands Operating Fund several million dollars previously declared surplus.
The PoLB has treated a constructive, progressive L.A. "no net increase" task force roughly the way North Korea has treated nuclear talks: a self-insulting refusal to take part.
We urge the public and/or Councilmembers to pull the currently proposed resolution on Port policy from tonight's "consent calendar" so an amending motion (or substitute motion if necessary) can be made.
It doesn't matter if the result is a split vote. That alone will send a powerful message.
We do not believe Councilmembers can credibly endorse state legislation calling for "no net increase" in pollution after needlessly voting to endorse a Port policy that allows increases in pollution while lobbying for projects that will increase Port capacity.
How much longer before signs begin appearing in Port-impacted districts saying "Say NO to Port Expansion" (perhaps accompanied by "Ya Basta!")?
How much longer before residents no longer ask City Hall to create a citizens' "task force" and instead create their own -- a Port area equivalent of LBHUSH2 -- that will offer the Council advice at the podium...and potentially at the ballot box?