Friday, March 2, 2018

San Francisco Seeks Settlement with State

By Karen Robes Meeks

The city of San Francisco and the California State Lands Commission have reached a tentative settlement deal that would see the state drop its lawsuit over Proposition B and not challenge the measure’s application to projects that voters already approved at Pier 70 and Mission Rock, according to the Port of San Francisco.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera recently announced the proposed settlement with the state, which challenged the validity of the 2014 measure that gave residents approval over height increases for new development on port-managed waterfront property.

As part of the settlement, the city will ensure that future decisions include written findings that approved developments are consistent with public trust and benefit the people of California. Additionally, future ballot measures affecting port property will include a city informational notice indicating the measures involve public trust lands.

Furthermore, the state and the port will work together to obtain funds to make the seawall earthquake safe and help place affordable housing on trust lands.

“This agreement protects the will of San Francisco voters,” Herrera said. “It ends this lawsuit while ensuring that voters continue to have their voices heard when it comes to the use, access and enjoyment of San Francisco’s waterfront. The waterfront is part of who we are as a city. We will continue to be good stewards of that legacy as we shape our future. Together, we will ensure that San Francisco’s waterfront remains vibrant and welcoming to residents and visitors alike.”

Olympia Honors Native Leader

By Karen Robes Meeks

Olympia, Washington’s East Bay Trail and NorthPoint Park will be renamed in honor of the late Billy Frank Jr. The Port of Olympia Commission recently approved the renaming, done in partnership with the Squaxin Island Tribe and the Frank Family.

A dedication and blessing ceremony is expected to take place on Frank’s birthday, March 9, with construction to begin in the following days.

“This is a great opportunity to educate people on the History of Billy Frank Jr.,” said Billy’s son, Willie Frank. “He spent his life working to protect the environment and salmon. My dad realized, after being arrested over 50 times for exercising his Treaty Right, that we all need to come together for the health of the salmon and Puget Sound.”

Squaxin Island Tribe Chairman Arnold Cooper said the Squaxin Island Tribe is honored to be working with the port and the Frank family on the dedication of the Billy Frank Jr. Trail and Park. “This is a great opportunity to honor Billy’s legacy while educating the community on our history and culture,” he said.

The $80,000 trail and park project will feature several educational kiosks and interpretive signs “each highlighting a unique aspect of Frank, the Squaxin Island Tribe and the life-cycle of salmon,” as well as information about native plants and honor two previous Canoe Landings (Squaxin, 2012 and Nisqually, 2016), according to the port.

The Port Commission will fund up to $25,000; the rest will come from the Squaxin Island Tribe and Salmon Defense.

Electric Trucks for Oakland

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Oakland this month saw its first battery-powered truck come through its doors with the introduction of trucking operator GSC Logistics’ 10-ton rig, kicking off a three-year trial to demonstrate “the feasibility of zero-emission freight hauling,” according to the port.

The new truck, which is being used to move containers between its depot and Oakland marine terminals, will only be used for short hauls, according to GSC Logistics, adding that the 100-mile battery range is unsuitable for long-haul drayage.

“We’re making four-to-five runs a day within the Port’s perimeter and so far, the truck’s performing well,” said GSC Logistics CEO Scott Taylor. “Our next step will be to get it out on the road.”

If the $250,000 big rig is effective, GSC Logistics could buy up to three more electric trucks.

“We’ll be following this experiment closely,” said Richard Sinkoff, the port’s director of environmental programs and planning. “If battery-powered vehicles can do the job efficiently and affordably, they can help change the way we do business.”

Alaska Spill Unified Command Response

By Karen Robes Meeks

An oil spill, 49 miles north of Kodiak in Shuyak Strait, Alaska, earlier this week has prompted the US Coast Guard and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation to set up a Unified Command response.

“The Unified Command's priorities are to limit environmental impacts through the containment and cleanup of the spill as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said Capt. Sean MacKenzie, Unified Command’s Federal on Scene Coordinator. “We are working diligently to minimize the impact to wildlife and the environment.”

Coast Guard, ADEC and Alaska Chadux Corporation crews are responding to the spill, which apparently happened after an abandoned building and an oil fuel bladder within it collapsed due to extreme weather Monday morning. The weather on Monday saw 40 mph winds and gusts up to 75 mph.

According to the Coast Guard, the bladder may have spilled up to 3,000 gallons of bunker C fuel oil.

The Coast Guard, which opened the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, is partnering with oil spill removal group Alaska Chadux to help with cleanup efforts.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

San Francisco Seawall Fix

By Karen Robes Meeks

Voters would support funding improvements to San Francisco’s seawall, according to a recent survey of voters.

About 73 percent of voters surveyed between January 11 and 21 would cast a “yes” vote on a proposed $500 million bond measure to upgrade the more than century-old three-mile-long seawall, which is vulnerable to earthquake and flooding.

“The Embarcadero Seawall is vital to our transportation networks – nearly a million people arrive daily via ferries and BART and Muni – and that means we need to act quickly,” said Kimberly Brandon, president of the San Francisco Port Commission.

The Embarcadero Roadway, the Downtown Ferry Terminal and the City Auxiliary Water Supply System are key parts of San Francisco’s emergency response network, said Mayor Mark Farrell. “Ensuring the seismic safety of the Seawall supports disaster response across all corners of the city – and voters understand this,” he added.

Port officials have been gauging public interest for the bond measure, which is being considered for this November’s ballot.

USCG Teams with CBP

By Karen Robes Meeks

On Saturday, Alaska-based Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick conducted joint customs operations with a Customs and Border Protection enforcement officer five miles from the Dixon Entrance, a strait in the Pacific Ocean at the Canada and United States border.

Both were there to monitor the safety and security of mariners moving in the area and making sure customs documentation was completed when they entered US territorial waters.

“We want to identify northbound vessels and ensure proper reporting requirements so that we may properly vet passengers and crew for prior violations,” said CBP Enforcement Officer Gilbert Varela.

“Working with our partner agencies is essential in understanding each other’s roles when conducting law enforcement missions and prepares us for future events,” said Lt. Mike Moyseowicz, commanding officer of the cutter John McCormick. “The Coast Guard is committed to patrolling our maritime borders to ensure safety and compliance at all times.”

Tacoma to Host Agriculture Transportation Meeting

By Karen Robes Meeks

Tacoma will welcome the Agriculture Transportation Coalition’s (AgTC) annual meeting this summer. The association, representing agricultural shippers, estimates that some 350 attendees will gather for the June 12–15 event at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance, a major US gateway for exporting refrigerated goods, agricultural and forest products, pitched Tacoma as a host location in order to show off the Pacific Northwest region and its international agricultural cargo advantages.

AgTC members are major players in trade, sending over 2 million containers of food, farm and fiber products annually. The alliance, made up of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, handled more than $6.8 million worth of those exports in 2016.

Port of Vancouver USA CEO Honored

By Karen Robes Meeks

Port of Vancouver USA CEO Julianna Marler will be recognized with a 2018 Clark College Iris Award for her leadership achievements during her decade-long career at the port, and her role in advancing the region’s economic development and success.

She is among four local women to be honored at the awards reception on International Women’s Day, March 8.

As CEO, Marler leads a port that annually creates an estimated $2.9 billion in economic benefit to the region, including 3,200 direct jobs and 20,000 indirect positions.

“Through everything the port experienced over the last few years, Julianna has been a steadying and uplifting hand, leading the port’s team, building on our partnerships and keeping everything running smoothly as we grow,” said port commission President Eric LaBrant. “We’re very fortunate to have her at the helm and proud that she’s being recognized for her hard work.”