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    Councilmembers Lowenthal & Baker Back Away From Call For L.A.-Styled Port Clean Air Task Force; Council Instead Votes For Quarterly Committee Meetings w/ Port Presentations

    (January 8, 2005) -- After jointly agendizing a January 4th item urging that LB's City Hall and Port develop a task force to ensure limiting pollution at the LB-L.A. Port complex (similar to an L.A. task force created by Mayor James Hahn to ensure "no net increase" in PoLA pollution), 1st district Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal and 2d district Councilman Dan Baker backed away from their call for a Task Force...and on motion by Councilman Baker, the Council voted to conduct quarterly committee meetings with presentations by the Port.

    "There's been a lot of discussion in the press, and obviously at our Council meetings about pollution emanating from both the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach, and I know that our Port has implemented a number of programs to try to deal with those issues, Councilman Baker began...and then said:

    "So what we'd like to recommend this evening is that we set up a system whereby we have perhaps quarterly meetings of our [Council] Harbor and Tidelands Committee, and I believe Councilmember Richardson is in agreement with this, in which there would be presentations from the Port of Long Beach on updated plans dealing with the pollution issues there. I know that the Harbor Commission is going to be meeting on the 18th [of January] on recommendations for an environmental plan for the Port that will address a number of these issues, and I think it would be a good idea to have the first meeting with the Harbor and Tidelands Committee meeting shortly thereafter so that we can start off a great program. And that's our recommendation."

    Councilwoman Lowenthal said nothing during the Council discussion.

    The move caught some Councilmembers by surprise. "So we're not requesting a Task Force? We're requesting quarterly meetings from the Port?" asked Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga.

    When that became clear, Councilwoman Reyes Uranga added a recommendation, embraced by Councilman Baker, that the PoLB's forthcoming report address some of the 70+ recommendations brought forth by residents at the I-710 oversight committee hearings which related to pollution.

    "There doesn't seem to be an integration of any response from the Port or acknowledgment that we even had those sessions, and so because that was a very important process I believe, but also the results this Council did approve those approve those results [which were forwarded to the Gateway Council of Governments]...I would like to...request that the Port of Long Beach incorporate some of those recommendations and give somewhat of a status report on how they're doing..."

    Councilwoman Reyes Uranga enumerated some of her I-710 committee's numerous recommendations: truck use of biodiesel, expanding on-dock rail capabilities and cold ironing among them.

    "Great recommendation and we're happy to include it as part of our request to the Port," said Councilman Baker.

    In reporting the originally agendized proposal by Councilmembers Baker and Lowenthal for a Task Force similar to L.A.'s, noted that unlike L.A. Mayor Hahn, LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill had not advanced or implemented an initiative to have LB's Port operate in ways that don't worsen air pollution with growth.

    At the January 4th Council meeting, Mayor O'Neill said:

    I just want to comment because in your suggested action you talk about coordinating with Los Angeles. There has been a great deal of coordination with Los Angeles, especially since the Homeland Security issues have become so prevalent in the Ports and we are jointly developing a number of initiatives to improve the security, and there's a great deal of work and cooperation between the two Ports. And Mayor Hahn and I recently formed a supply-chain task force that was addressing the cargo backlog this last fall, and we're still working on some long term strategies for that. So I'm glad they're preparing an environmental report at the Port of Long Beach, and I will be glad that we will be bringing it back to our Council committees, but we are coordinating also with Los Angeles.


    [later in the proceedings]...And I know we've also had participation and observers from the City of Long Beach at the L.A. "no net increase [in pollution]" Task Force and members of the Port have been attending those meetings so that there has been a great deal of coordination there.

    In public testimony, Janet Gunter of San Pedro, a member of the Port of Los Angeles Community Advisory Committee, urged establishment of a similar Community Advisory Committee for the Port of Long Beach.

    Our group has been extremely active in dealing with the Port [of L.A.] and voicing and having a way to participate in our concerns about the growth of the Port [of L.A.]...I would love to see Mayor O'Neill also endorse [L.A. Mayor] Jim Hahn's policy of no net increase in the air pollution from the Ports. I think it's very, very important to do so, and to do so jointly because we really and truly are one Port, one large Port.

    And also, I would like to emphasize the need, as they've done on [the L.A. Task Force] to have community representatives. We have the president of our homeowners organization, Noel Park, as part of that Task Force.

    LB activist Bry Myown noted the work done by L.A.'s Port Community Advisory Commission. Coby Skye of the LB Greens also urged establishing a Port Community Advisory Commission in Long Beach...and chided the Council for backing away from an L.A. style "no net increase in pollution" Task Force.

    "The Port of Los Angeles I think is a little bit ahead of us and unfortunately, part of the reason for that is because there have been more successful lawsuits over there, and I hope that we learn from their mistakes and are more proactive in reducing the pollution because...the pollution is already at intolerable levels. It's killing too many people..."

    The public's recommendations brought no immediate action from the Council...but Councilwoman Rae Gabelich commented to Mr. Skye, "I had the opportunity yesterday [Jan. 3] to meet with some of the Port [of LB] officials, and they believe that in the report that's coming forward [Jan. 18] that they will outshine some of L.A.'s efforts, so we'll look forward to hearing that."

    The Council vote was 9-0 on Councilman Baker's motion to hold the quarterly meetings of the Harbor & Tidelands Committee with Port presentations.

    Related coverage:

    Councilmembers Lowenthal & Baker Seek To Establish L.A.-Styled Task Force To Implement "No Net Increase" In LB Port Related Air Pollution

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