Thursday, November 12, 2009

LA Port/Enviro Group Redevelopment Pact Questioned

Confusion abounds over a Port of Los Angeles settlement with an environmental coalition over the redevelopment of the TraPac container terminal at the port.
Port officials are questioning whether signatures on the agreement are valid and how this impacts the agreement itself.

In early 2008, LA port commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding between the port and a group of 20 environmental and community groups that allowed the environmental impact report for the much-delayed TraPac terminal expansion to move forward unopposed. The groups had threatened to sue the city to stop the project, which the groups claimed did not “move fast enough or far enough” to reduce pollution from the terminal’s expanded operations.

The decade-old TraPac development project seeks to modernize and expand the 176-acre container terminal to 243 acres. The expansion would also provide the terminal with on-dock rail, expanded berthing capabilities, and improved gate traffic flow by the realignment of a connecting street.

Despite the settlement being approved by the port commission in April 2008, it was not signed until 15 months later on July 15 of this year. Signing for the port was S. David Freeman, who had been president of the commission when the agreement was devised.
The problem is that Freeman resigned from the commission two months earlier in May of this year, raising the issue of whether Freeman's signature on the agreement is legal. Adding more confusion is that the one valid port signature on the agreement document, Executive Director Geraldine Knatz, is not dated.

The issue came up as the LA commission was set to transfer $4 million into a community mitigation fund created as part of the agreement.