Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chamber Opposes Long Beach Port Ballot Measure

The Long Beach Chamber of Commerce has become the latest voice to oppose a Long Beach City Council-drafted ballot measure that seeks to assert more City Hall control over the Port of Long Beach.

The Chamber voted Thursday morning to accept the recommendation of its Government Affairs Committee to oppose Measure D.

The measure seeks to change the way an annual transfer of port revenue to City Hall is calculated and also seeks to transfer control of port-owned oil properties to City Hall. Though City Hall did no analysis of the impacts Measure D might have on the port, an analysis by port financial staff released last week found that Measure D could shift more than $130 million in port revenue over the next five years to the control of City Hall.

Mayor Bob Foster has said that Measure D is nothing more than an effort to clarify City Charter language regarding the city's relationship with the port.

In voting to oppose Measure D, the Chamber cited the potential impact such a shift of funds might have on the port's ability to develop and remain competitive, as well as the possible impact such a shifting of port revenue may have on the port's exceptionally high bond ratings.

The Chamber joins a large number of business groups that have opposed the measure. Last week, a coalition including the Los Angeles Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association, the LA/LB Propeller Club, the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, the Harbor Association of Industry and Commerce, FuturePorts, and the California Marine and Intermodal Transportation System Advisory Council, or CALMITSAC announced their opposition to Measure D. Members of the various groups represent nearly all the major stakeholders in the Southern California shipping industry.

Local news outlets including the Long Beach Business Journal, the Grunion Gazette and the Beachcomber have also expressed opposition to Measure D.

A recent study of Measure D by the California State Lands Commission – the state watchdog over local port authorities – found that Measure D did not, on its face, violate state law. However, the agency was highly critical of the way the measure was put forward without an economic analysis.