Friday, July 29, 2016

POLB Approves $46 Million Mitigation Fund

By Mark Edward Nero

At its July 25 meeting, the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners authorized the framework for a record $46.4 million program to lessen the impacts of port-related pollution on the community.

The investment, expected to be disbursed over 12 to 15 years, adds to the $17.4 million that the Port of Long Beach has awarded to community groups since 2009, for a total of almost $65 million.

Previous funding from the Community Mitigation Grants Program helped pay for projects that included air-filtration systems at schools, renewable energy projects, energy efficiency upgrades and asthma outreach health programs.

Harbor Commission President Lori Ann Guzmán said the Board felt strongly about identifying an ongoing, long-term source to continue the program, which has helped the most vulnerable in the community, children and seniors.

“As commissioners, we live in Long Beach, so we understand for the port to do well, we must do good,” she said. “The proposed community mitigation program is the latest example of our longstanding and long-term commitment to the environment and the Long Beach.”

Before the port could consider establishing a new mitigation-related program, state law required the completion of a study identifying the port’s cumulative impacts to air, traffic, noise and water. The study, released in April, valued the impacts at $46.4 million.

In early fall, the port plans to host a public workshop to help develop grant guidelines for allocating funds to the variety of community health, facility improvement and community infrastructure projects identified in the study. A date for the workshop has yet to be announced.

The Harbor Commission is expected to decide on program rules later this year, and funding is expected to be awarded starting in 2017.