It Does Not Follow

The whipping boys, the port truckers, are making the headlines again. Many of these drivers are taking illegal shortcuts through Wilmington neighborhoods in order to save time on the way to the Port of Los Angeles, and the City Council is taking action as a result. An ordinance is being drafted that would impose much higher fines on those who ignore existing laws banning the use of residential streets in the port community. Harbor Area Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who introduced the motion, states, “These truckers are going down streets that are clearly marked. They’re driving over sidewalks and barreling by schools and parks”. The proposed fine for a second offense will be increased from $ 100 to $ 1,000, and while citing the benefit to the community, Ms. Hahn admitted that the move would not be popular with the truckers. “They feel they’re already being saddled with the cost, but they need to understand we’re working on congestion at the ports and freeways and they cannot jeopardize the safety of Wilmington residents”, she said. Ms. Hahn’s reaction to the situation is certainly reasonable and proper. More than a decade ago, the law banning vehicles weighing in excess of 6,000 pounds from specified neighborhood roads was put into effect, and if it was a problem back when truck traffic was sparse, one can only imagine what today’s problem is like.

Ms. Hahn was right. Something just had to be done about the threat to Wilmington’s residents. She was also right about the move being unpopular with the truckers. Sophia Park of Harbor in Wilmington, although she agrees that drivers must be kept off residential streets, disagreed with the heavy amount of fine proposed. “Drivers are leaving the industry because of the long lines at the terminal and the cost of the fuel”, she said. “It will make drivers’ lives more difficult. A lot of changes are already putting hardship on the industry”, she added.

Why is it that with all the difficulties that have surfaced and are blooming in the LA/Long Beach port complex, the only attempts being made to counter these difficulties are being directed at truckers? The real causes within and around the ports are being deferred because no one knows how to deal with the seemingly inevitable and imminent supply chain gridlock. Would these repeated assaults against the drivers be made if these drivers were organized? You know darned well they wouldn’t. The drivers are an easy and defenseless target. Ms. Hahn’s statement that “ … they need to understand we’re working on congestion at the ports and freeways and they cannot jeopardize the safety of Wilmington’s residents”, is a non sequitur. Dangerous drivers in Wilmington’s side streets have nothing to do with congested highway conditions. But drivers are an easy target, and any action against this easy target will appear to the public as though officials are … what? Looking busy?

Want a perfect illustration of an illogical move? Take another look at the PierPass program. In a repeatedly side-tracked effort to reduce pollution and congestion, this misdirected program is wasting valuable time as well as millions of dollars in startup and organizational expenses. The latest word is that the trucking industry continues to oppose the program and anticipates its failure. Has it ever occurred to port officials that if they had committed these millions of dollars to the truckers in the form of incentive bonuses, rather than to an out-of-town organization in charge of dispensing fines, the program, by this time, would have gathered all the support it needed to be up and running?