Friday, April 9, 2021

Could the Queen Mary Wind Up in the Port of Long Beach’s Hands?

The Long Beach City Council moved forward this week on a plan to possibly transfer control of the land that encompasses the iconic but financially beleaguered Queen Mary to the Long Beach Harbor Commission, which governs the Port of Long Beach.

The Council on Tuesday directed city staff members to return in 60 days with a report proposing how the transfer of Pier H could happen.

“I believe our Harbor Department is well-equipped and experienced to handle leases and development” of the pier, said City Councilwoman Cindy Allen, whose 2nd District includes the Queen Mary.

She added that she trusts the locally appointed harbor commissioners to look out for the best interests of the community.

The Harbor Department previously controlled the land until 1992, when the city took hold of the property to develop it as a tourist destination. But over the years, development plans have been stunted by ongoing costs and various changes in lease management.

The Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, which represents various maritime stakeholders along the West Coast, has come out against the move, citing the Queen Mary as a financial burden to port finances.

“The Port of Long Beach is facing billions (of dollars) in infrastructure costs going forward from the Pier B rail yard along with installing the infrastructure necessary to support the transition to zero emissions under both port and state policy directives,” PMSA President John McLaurin wrote in a letter to city leaders. “If the Queen Mary needed $289 million in repairs six years ago, we assume that figure is much higher today.”

The Council is expected to revisit the matter in June.