Unwise Acres

The May 9th edition of the LA Times gave us more insight on the stupidity of California officials. Dan Weikel put it this way:

“The Los Angeles City Council approved a controversial rail yard near the Port of Los Angeles, setting the stage for possible court challenges, alleging violations of environmental and civil rights laws.

“The proposal to build a staging center for trains hauling freight from the largest harbor complex in the nation has raised questions about environmental justice, particularly from nearby minority and wirking-class neighborhoods of west Long Beach, which could be affected by the project.

“Council members approved the Southern California International Gateway and certified its environmental analysis, saying the $ 500-million project would boost efficiency in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, create jobs, and provide mitigation measures to improve air quality in surrounding communities.

“‘We are at a beginning point to make things better,’ Councilman Ed Reyes said. ‘If we don’t move now, two, three, four years, we could lose our competitive edge.’

“Council members pointed to improvements at other West Coast ports and the current widening of the Panama Canal, which could allow the largest container ships from Asia to bypass the West Coast and deliver goods to ports on the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico …

“The 153-acre project would be capable of handling up to 2.8 million 20-foot shipping containers a year by 2035 and 8,200 trucks a day.

“Railroad and harbor officials say the facility will be the greenest of its type in the nation and employ the cleanest diesel trucks, cranes, yard hostlers and locomotives available. Truck traffic, they say, would be dramatically reduced on the Long Beach Freeway and mitigation measures would cut noise, light and air pollution in nearby communities …

“Opponents contend the project will make life worse in neighborhoods that have already been seriously degraded by port operations. Research shows that residents in the area, particularly children, now have abnormally high rates of asthma and other respiratory illnesses, including lung cancer.

“They point to the project’s environmental impact documents, which state that there will be significant unavoidable environmental impacts that would fall disproportionately on low-income communities.” –

Let’s see. Another 153 acres – $ 500-million – 2.8 million containers – and 8,200 trucks. Hmmmm.

Let’s review our August 10, 2005 Vol. IV, Art. 15 commentary (“The 10,000 Acre Question”).

“The key is, when are they going to stop growing to the detriment of the community”? asked Roger Holman, President, Coolidge Triangle Homeowners Association. Mr. Holman was urging the Port
of Long Beach and the City Council to determine how much cargo would be too much for the communities surrounding the LA/Long Beach port complex to bear. He probably had just read the GCN Special Report describing the size of this nation’s largest port area, and the third largest in the world based on volume. The Port of Los Angeles alone has more than 45 miles of shoreline, and with three major highways criss-crossing the two ports, along with several bridges and ramps, the combined ports cover more than 10,000 acres. How big is 10,000 acres?

– 10,000 acres is almost 16 square miles.
– 10,000 acres is about the size of San Miguel Island.
– 10,000 acres is larger than Anacapa Island.
– 10,000 acres is larger than Santa Barbara Island.

“Some 44% of all imported goods enter the United States through these harbors, the GCN report stated, but do 44% of U.S. consumers live within a radius of, say, 500 miles of these ports? Hardly. Why, then, should those in authority be obsessed with the idea of attracting more cargo volume? More than three years ago Mr. John Vickerman, in a study conducted by the widely-respected TransSystems Corp., revealed that the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will require over 5,000 new acres for container operations by the year 2010, and by 2020 an additional 9,400 acres will be required. In other words, the present rate of growth will require that the ports be expanded to twice their present sizes. Forgetaboutit. Not only is the required acreage for future (supposed) port development nonexistent, but the imposition of the PierPass program indicates that container handling operations even now are being stymied by cramped quarters.

“Why add to the concerns of local residents by encouraging illogical and costly growth? Isn’t it bad enough that unmanageable volumes of cargo have resulted in newly-mandated nighttime operations – operations that were designed and implemented with no regard for neighborhood concerns? Mr. Holman outlined these concerns in a letter to the Long Beach Harbor Commission, the Los Angeles and Long Beach City Councils and to PierPass. Homeowners maintain that the imposed off-peak schedule will bring noise and air pollution to their communities around the clock, rather than just during the day. The complaint, similar to the complaints of others who oppose the plan – like truckers and small importers and exporters – criticizes PierPass officials for failing to collect input from many of those who will be adversely affected by nighttime operations.

“But wait ’till next year. When the homeowners association called on the ports and terminal operators to undertake an environmental review of the program, PierPass officials said that the extended hours program is merely a change in operations, not an increase in capacity. Not an increase in capacity? Isn’t the ongoing increase in capacity the cause of this intrusiveness? Didn’t port officials project that the number of truck trips would double in the next few years? [Wait ’till next month, even.]” –

[Now you know why we used the word “stupidity” to describe the mental acuity of LA officials.]