West Coast Offense

It must be the cooler air up in Canada that accounts for the cooler heads prevailing up there. What other reason could there be for the logical reaction of Canada’s federal government to the increasing numbers of containers coming from Asia? The new Pacific Gateway Strategy, announced on October 21st by the government, is designed to strengthen Canada’s position in international commerce, as well as the competitiveness of Canada’s Pacific gateway ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert. Well, no, it can’t be just the cooler air because the same kind of common sense is being exhibited by our neighbors below our Southern border.

Meanwhile, on the U.S. West Coast, backward-thinking officials are doing everything possible to confound the position of the LA/Long Beach port complex. They’ve long since run out of elbow room in the two ports and the inability or unwillingness of port officials to give any concern to either air quality or traffic congestion in and around the ports have alienated every segment of Southern California society. Those officials have painted themselves into a corner but they insist on casting about for ways to cram still more TEUs into those blivvit-like areas. Time is wasted, effort is wasted, and enormous amounts of money are being wasted. How long do you suppose any of the port officials would hold a job in the public sector where accountability would be demanded from them and no taxpayer dollars would be available to bail them out?

And what about the governor and his staff? Aren’t they supposed to govern? Can’t they see that thousands of jobs are at stake? Can’t they see that by drawing a line at those Southern California ports and developing instead those rarely used and shut down ports and harbors up and down the coast, thousands of jobs would be preserved and thousands of additional jobs would be created? Not very long ago 29 West Coast ports were shut down for a period of ten days during a well-publicized labor dispute. Remember that? Can you name the 29 ports? Probably not, but that number of ports tells us that there are ports and harbors just waiting to be turned into highly profitable and job-producing container-handling ports. There’s absolutely no reason for officials in California to postpone this development and to entertain the fantasy that congestion and pollution can be reduced by cramming more containers into the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The PMA issued a press release a few years ago and identified as California working ports, LA and Long Beach, along with another dozen ports. These other working ports along with a number of shut down U.S. Naval bases are readily available for development. The cost of developing these ports would be paltry compared to the cost of upgrading the LA/Long Beach complex’s infrastructure. The LA/Long Beach planners are in a dream world, and Linda Chick, the LA Controller, should be looking into their pipe dreams. The one chance, and maybe the only hope of relief the ports’ neighbors have, is that a little-publicized entity, the West Coast Corridor Coalition, will recommend a halt to LA/Long Beach growth. This group, an organization of some 28 community governing councils, met on Oct. 14th with Chinese government and business officials at the San Francisco Hilton. Little-publicized did we say? Largely ignored would be more like it. An official for the Port of Oakland, a beneficiary of the group’s efforts, said they weren’t even aware of it. [Tsk, tsk.]