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Monday, August 29, 2005

Port Updates

A couple of stories back in the world of shipping cargo and creating gridlock and smog.

LA Press Telegram:

Ship it to Savannah
Competition for the ports of L.A. and Long Beach? We need more of it.

Long Beach Press Telegram

What kind of sense does it make to ship cargo from Asia to Long Beach, then truck it through jammed local freeways and across the country to Savannah, Georgia? None, in the view of Savannah port officials, who have tripled their business in the past few years. More power to them.

Savannah's success is more than slightly ironic. As The Wall Street Journal pointed out this week, Savannah's once vibrant commerce in exports of fabrics was all but wiped out in recent years by Asian competition, and now almost all the port's business is from Asia.

Shippers have found that, rather than fighting their way through the congestion in Southern California, they can send some of their smaller, faster ships through the Panama Canal and get cargo the East Coast more quickly than hauling it across the country.

According to the University of Georgia, Savannah's port has created 120,000 jobs paying from $12 an hour to $120,000 a year for warehouse and longshore workers, and generates $1.4 billion a year in tax revenue for the city and state. All this prosperity has attracted the attention of ports elsewhere, eager to cash in on growth in Asian trading averaging 10 percent a year.

Southern California's twin ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles for many years have sent trade missions of local politicians far and wide to compete for shippers' business. They still send the politicians, first class of course, but the business now is coming in faster than they can handle it.

Click here for rest of story

LA Times:

Image Woes Shrink Traffic at Port
Business is down 2% at the L.A. facility, partly because of memories of congestion last year.
By Ronald D. White
Times Staff Writer

August 28, 2005

Five years after reestablishing itself as the nation's busiest international trade gateway, the Port of Los Angeles seems to have run aground.

At major ports in North America, booming Asian trade is producing record cargo traffic ( increases of 12% to more than 35% ) and the revenue and jobs that go with it.

But business is sinking at L.A.'s port, down nearly 2% this year, because of a serious image problem created partly by last year's record congestion, which also affected the Long Beach port, and the 2002 labor dispute that shut down West Coast harbors for 11 days.

In addition, the Los Angeles port faces a litany of other problems, observers say. These include internal disarray, unhappy neighbors and delays in dredging and wharf construction projects to accommodate giant containerships that currently go to Long Beach, where cargo volume is nearly 16% ahead of last year's record pace.

Combined, the result has been "a major structural shift in trade patterns," said John Martin, president of Martin Associates, a maritime consulting firm in Lancaster, Pa. "And there does not appear to be a lot of support from the city for the Port of Los Angeles. That is bad."

Los Angeles is at a crossroads, shifting leadership from former Mayor James K. Hahn, who had said the port needed to be a cleaner and better neighbor, to Antonio Villaraigosa, whose agenda has yet to be unveiled. The port's five-year strategic plan is being overhauled, even as it tries to regain its footing.

Click here for rest of story:

Blog Away


Anonymous Anonymous said:





For much of my professional career, it has been my privilege to work in and for the city of Long Beach. Serving as the city’s mayor, to be able to devote my energies full-time to serve and improve the community that I and my family love, has been a long-time personal goal.

However, it has become increasingly clear that with my expanding responsibilities with Bank of America, I will need to put my personal aspirations aside for now. After considerable soul-searching and discussion with family and friends, I have decided to withdraw from the 2006 mayoral campaign.

When we launched the campaign in March, I was confident that I could balance the responsibilities of my professional career with the demands of the campaign. However, with my role intensifying and requiring more travel, I simply would not be able to conduct the grassroots campaign we envisioned and still achieve the level of professional performance I and the bank would expect. The bank has been extremely supportive and understanding of my mayoral aspirations. In fact, my role with the bank will provide opportunities to work closely with mayors and other state leaders across California to improve local communities and strengthen our state’s economy.

Over the past months, I have been inspired and gratified by the many Long Beach leaders who have extended their support and helped us build a strong campaign. Our collective desire to bring new vision and new leadership to our city remains as strong as ever. While my 2006 mayoral campaign ends today, the spirit of our campaign, to bring the community together to solve our city’s most pressing challenges, continues on. In the coming weeks, I will have further discussions with my campaign team to talk about how we can best stay actively involved in the upcoming election and advance the issues we believe are most important to the future of our city.

I am proud of the success that our campaign has achieved in bringing together a diverse group of leaders from across the city – a campaign that we fully expected to win. The departure today from the mayor’s race is not a departure from the city. I will continue to be active in the community because Long Beach will always be home for me and my family and we care deeply about the city’s future. And, I will continue to speak out on issues that are of most importance to our citizens – making our streets safer, improving our environment, developing job opportunities, empowering our neighborhoods, and creating safe places for our young people to learn and to grow.

Thank you so very much to those who have supported our campaign. Our work to bring new vision and new leadership to our city continues on and our commitment to the city remains forever strong.

Randal Hernandez


August 29, 2005 7:41 AM  

Anonymous noel park said:

Congratulations to the Press-Telegram for having the guts to take up the true public policy issues around port expansion.

The Public Policy Instute of California has said the the benefits - jobs, taxes and business profits - gained from the 50% of port cargo which passes through the state to points east are likely more than offset by the externalized costs - health impacts of air pollution (now exceeding $2 billion a year in health care costs and over 300 premature deaths), traffic congestion, and wear and tear on public infrastructure. Added to this are the costs of security, or more corectly the costs of the potential disaster as there is really no security, and community blight.

In any case, the impacted peole deserve to be protected from these impacts as part of the business model, and not to have the costs dumped on them.

There urgently needs to be a public policy understanding of these issue, with real numbers, and analysis by credible outside parties - the PPIC is an outstanding example - instead of propaganda slogans about the "engine of the economy."

August 29, 2005 12:30 PM  

Anonymous noel park said:

As to the Port of Los Angeles' business being down, this would seem to be largely an example of what went around coming around.

Several years ago, the Port of Los Angeles stole the Maersk terminal away from Long Beach, many would say by means of a sweetheart deal which sacrificed any profitability on the altar of growth in the God Almighty container throughput numbers.

Following that, LA experienced a period of phenomenal growth, while LB languished. As a result, LB was left with the empty former Maersk facility, and the giant new Hanjin facility, which gave it a huge platform for new growth. Meanwhile, LA is taking a pause as it digests its massive recent growth spurt, as it has filled up its available land for the moment.

The management of the Port of Long Beach is no better than that of the Port of Los Angeles. Their cultures are remarkably the same. When Long Beach fills up this temporary availability of facilities, they will encounter the same communities aroused about their environmental impacts, and the same national public interest organizations and law firms that LA has, and their growth will be affected in exactly the same way.

Their Pier J project is only the first example. Unless the ports begin to properly mitigate their impacts on our communities, the battle will only intensify.

August 29, 2005 12:47 PM  

Anonymous noel park said:

Thank you for continuing to take up these issues. The lives and health of literally millions of people are at stake.

August 29, 2005 12:49 PM  

Blogger ubrayj02 said:

From what I can tell, these articles illustrate how the higher costs associated with shipping in to the L.A. and Long Beach ports have made it cheaper to ship goods through some other facilities.

I don't think this is a boon to conservationists, and those who would like to see less traffic at the ports.

Essentially, the traffic at the ports has hit an economic peak - it is simply cheaper to send goods elsewhere when cargo volume hits it's current level. If anything, this just means more of the same.

I can just imagine the people who will celebrate news articles like this.

There is an annoying tendency that legislators and activitists have. Both groups tend to operate in a mindset devoid of considerations for the economics underlying an issue. That is why we get suggestions to "Just make them shippers bring in less cargo!", etc.

The most any government can do is determine how best to game an economic system to the benefit of everyone. If someone operating a business can make more money by operating in an environmentally sustainable way - then, by god, they will typically do it.

The essential questions of how to use limited local government power to enable shippers to make money, while minimizing their impact on our air quality and transit infrastructure, have not yet begun to be asked!

August 29, 2005 1:31 PM  

Blogger ubrayj02 said:

Wow. I can hear myself type in here.

August 29, 2005 4:59 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

You're interested in inteligent conversation. The goons are all over in the CD 14 post.

August 29, 2005 5:09 PM  

Blogger ubrayj02 said:

In the spirit of creating a blog within a blog, here is a refutation of my claim at the end of my last post.

Mobility21 is a lobbying group made up of the L.A. Chamber of Commerce, the AAA, and the MTA. They published a report entitled "to promote smarter growth" in May of 2004.

In their report they demonstrated the financial tipping points (in terms of returns on investment) that would lead to real estate development along heavily used transit corridors.

The report focused on identifying the zoning and fee structures required to get the private sector over the tipping point, and begin building in the City of Los Angeles in a manner that would reduce traffic, pollution, and waste.

So I stand corrected. People have begun to ask the critical economic questions that will lead to a better environmental future.

But I don't think they have begun trying to ask these questions about the ports.

August 29, 2005 6:05 PM  

Blogger ubrayj02 said:

Anon 12:49 p.m.,

I think that anyone who actually works in this field doesn't need to bothered by gadlfys like me.

Apparently the same cannot be said for the 14th Council District race. I'm willing to bet money that half the people who post there are paid staff or vounteers of either campaign.

August 29, 2005 6:10 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

One of the keys to the future success of the Ports is not only continuing to persuade exporters to ship to LB and LA, but to prove to them that their goods once off the dock are transfered quickly to their land and rail destination wherever that may be.

Goods movement is critical not only to the future of the Ports and our economy, but to relieving congestion, improving the environment and improving safety in our communities.

Despite the efforts of Mobility-21, much more needs to be done to get federal and local funds to improve rail and highway capacity specifically for goods movement.

It was a shame that that despite the intense lobbying by local, state and federal officials along with numerous business interests, CA got a hundred plus million for the Alameda Corridor East whereas Kern County got more than $700 million for stupid freeway.

Our federal reps didn't take advantage of the large pot of money available for projects like this one. It makes no sense whatsoever, but then again it acutally does.

August 29, 2005 6:59 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

We risk becoming an economic enclave, a by-passed island of local squarrel with no activity other than local efforts to support the growing population (from immigration and high birthrates in the local immigrate population). International commerce will go elsewhere since it is tied to transportation. The failure of the national and state government to wisely invest tax monies into transpiration centers to support international trade and the lack of will in local governments to make the tough decisions in the era of term limits make the future bleak. Unfortunately, pork barrel politics still carry the day over rational, long-range planning.

August 30, 2005 12:20 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

6:59 is correct, goods movement is critical to the economy of the region. Manufacturing is gone, the major business HQ have relocated elsewhere, the entertainment industry is under pressure to relocated, service industry that does not serve the local area has left so what does that leave to provide economic vitality to the region other than real estate and transportation? Real estate fueled by low mortgage rates and raising values does not have the strength to carry the region thought the boom and bust cycles that mark history. In fact this real estate frenzy matches one in the early 20th century that helped the region growth. But the economic activity of the day was narrow, built on real estate and oil, neither one was enough to permanently support he economic health of the region. Go back and one will find a massive campaign to broaden the economical base of Southern California. Much of this campaign centered on the Port of Los Angeles and its ability to attach new industry and move goods within and outside the region.

The region is living off of its investments from past years in highways, railroads, harbors and airports. Steve Erie points this out very clearly in his book on LAX and the Ports. But the investment of past years will not carry international trade into the future and continue to provide the economic activity needed to sustain the region. Once the Mexican ports come on-line with lower labor costs, automated facilities and lax environmental policies the cost of not upgrading Southern California’s transportation infrastructure will become apparent.

We risk becoming an economic enclave, a by-passed island of local squallier with no economic activity other than local efforts to support the growing population (from immigration and high birthrates in the local immigrate population). International commerce will go elsewhere since it is tied to transportation. The failure of the national and state government to wisely invest tax monies into transpiration centers to support international trade and the lack of will in local governments to make the tough decisions in the era of term limits make the future bleak. Unfortunately, pork barrel politics still carry the day over rational, long-range planning.

August 30, 2005 12:21 AM  

Blogger ubrayj02 said:

In response to the Anons who posted about out lack of infrastructure:

I think, in some respects, you are wrong.

The infrastructure you are referring to was built for different sort of economy: one based on resource extraction (esp. earlier in the state's history, and now mostly limited to the big farming operations) and manufacturing (which really kicked in after WWII).

Along with a massive investment (with public monies) in infrastructure to aid these industries, an equally massive investment was made in training and providing for the material needs of the people doing this extractive and manufacturing work.

Our regional future is not tied to extractive industries, and it is less and less based on manufacturing activity.

What is needed now is not an infrastructure to support these fading industries, but one that will consolidate wealth extracted and produced elswhere.

What sort of infrastructure does that imply? Well it certainly doesn't imply more freeways, and more 19th century-style public works.

One of the key ideas that will guide our future, as I see it, is "efficiency". What is needed in our modern world is a radical reduction in resource consumption. Technologies and expertise that focus on efficiency are going to be the growth industries, and Southern California is the perfect test bed. This region has a diverse and relatively well-educated labor pool, and enough prosperity and university research to feed the development of this sort of technology and expertise.

Second the above for many other knowledge-based industries.

If anything, the region needs more investment in its people. The "goods" we'll be shipping abroad for profit will be based in human knowledge. The true investment in our region's future is in this region's populace (both undocumented, naturalized, and native-born alike).

August 30, 2005 1:37 AM  

Blogger ubrayj02 said:

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

August 30, 2005 1:38 AM  

Blogger ubrayj02 said:

A further point I would add is that Southern California has something very significant:

A great location.

We are on the busy Pacific Rim, and we are sitting on a massive investment in highways, railroads, airports, aqueducts, etc.

Once the public works were completed, providing water and (later) major transportation routes to this region, our ability to overcome any geographic disadvantage that inhibited growth in the past disappeared.

In my moderately educated view, we're doing alright and probably don't need to build wider highways and more container storage facilities.

As a side note: the forces that control the destiny of our thriving ports are global, and mostly out of our regulatory and political reach. So don't worry, be happy.

August 30, 2005 1:51 AM  

Anonymous noel park said:

The forces which control our thriving ports are actually entirely within our hands.

Our Mayors, City Councils, and Harbor Commissions have absolute control over what gets built in our ports, and what the prices are for the use of these facilities.

They also have an absolute duty to protect the health, safety, and quality of life of the citizens of the cities which they ostensibly exist to serve.

Therefore, they must structure their construction projects, leases and use fees in such a way that these responsibilities are fulfilled.

If the business model cannot support the costs it generates, massive portions of which are now externalized onto the public, it is dysfunctional and cannot stand.

August 30, 2005 9:48 AM  

Anonymous noel park said:

I have to worry, and I can't be happy, when the cancer risk from toxic air pollution in my neighborhood is 2800 times the federal threshold of concern. In the adjacent neighborhood it is 6000 times that threshold, highest in the South Coast Air Basin, which once again has the dirtiest air in the nation this year.

August 30, 2005 9:51 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

did you see that california residents are testing 10 times the national average for certain metals and toxins in their bodies. mercury is one of the metals. i can't help but wonder how much of a contributor the two ports are to this phenomenom.

August 30, 2005 7:45 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Why is it everytime the "port" or "ports" are mentioned it becomes a NOEL PARK blog? Is this the only parasite left in the South Bay?

September 03, 2005 12:08 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

September 03, 2005 12:08 PM

Don't you know Mr. Parks and his associates are the ONLY ones who truly care about the Port and the pollution issues.......The rest of us are just bozo's wasting air space!

September 04, 2005 8:45 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I think it is interesting to note in the wake of Katrina's devastation that they are acknowledging how much the New Orleans ports contribute to the economy of the area and the nation with New Orleans handling more tonnage than any other US ports. Aerospace, military, and high tech have left this areas so when will anyone admit how much our ports and transportation industries contribute to our local and national economy? We are the global leaders in using green technologies at our ports and it is never enough.

September 04, 2005 5:28 PM  

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