Thursday, January 6, 2011

Los Angeles City Council to Revisit Failed Port Shipyard Reuse Plan

Less than three weeks after the Port of Los Angeles declared that it was ending all negotiations with a Long Beach firm hoping to redevelop a shuttered shipyard at the port, the future of the proposed shipyard will now return to the Los Angeles City Council for further consideration.

Councilmember Janice Hahn, whose district covers the port, asked her council colleagues on Tuesday to revisit the shipyard proposal by Gambol Industries, Inc.

Gambol's plan called for a $50 million re-development of the shuttered South West Marine shipyard along the main channel of the port into a modern ship repair facility. The firm, which claims it has a solid business plan that would create hundreds of jobs at the proposed facility, has faced stiff criticism from the port, shipping industry, and longshore unions. However, under pressure from Los Angeles City Hall, the port signed a memorandum of understanding with Gambol in 2009 to consider the development of the ship repair facility.

Port officials have maintained that the Gambol plan was unrealistic and could seriously delay an Army Corps of Engineers channel-deepening project and ongoing terminal development at the port. The port envisioned the former shipyard slips as a perfect location to deposit dredge material from the Army Corps project.

The shipyard proposal will now return to the Los Angeles City Council's Trade, Commerce and Tourism Committee, which is headed up by Hahn. In February 2010, Hahn stepped down as the impartial mediator between the port and Gambol after it was revealed she received $7,000 in political contributions from the president of Gambol.

According to data from the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, Gambol has paid more than $720,000 to various lobbying firms between 2007 and the end of 2009 to advocate for the project at City Hall.

In the early 2000s, the adjacent Port of Long Beach found itself in possession of the federal government-shuttered Long Beach Naval Shipyard and port officials spent several years trying to identify a firm that could present a viable plan to redevelop the navy yard into a commercial shipyard. While several firms stepped forward, the plans never materialized and the drydocks were eventually filled with dredge material and paved over to add additional acreage to a massive container terminal under development at the time.