News Clips

November 06, 2010

KPCC: TraPac expansion brings $16 million (so far) to port communities

KPCC | Molly Peterson

You might remember an expansion at the Port of Los Angeles from 3 years ago at the TraPac area - if for no other reason that it was featured prominently in America's Port, a reality show on National Geographic:

Betting on the approval of Dr. Geraldine Knatzs plan to grow and green the port, TraPacs VP Frank Pisano gambled $15M by ordering two new cranes. TraPacs future hangs in the balance pending the vote of the Harbor Board of Commissions. Captain Michael Rubino guides the late MOL Endowment through a tight turn to avoid another ship. Challenged to fix a broken hatch seal and get the freighter back on schedule, TraPac calls in their ace crane operator Bo Stipicevich. In the marina, Det. Mike Belo investigates the suspected rape of a 21-year-old woman with the mental capacity of a 10-year-old child by a 53-year-old man. Habitat for Humanitys press conference with President Jimmy Carter gets delayed when Port Police discover a suspicious object during an underwater dive sweep around the pier.

America's Port was one of my favorite guilty pleasures while it was on, for the way it mixed macho sounding music with dramatic camera shots and a distorted oversimplification of environmental issues. Also, they had this one episode where they were up in the crane with the crane operators that was AWESOME! (cue dramatic guitar chord here, followed by devil's horns)

Back to TraPac. The port said at the time, that TraPac's expansion was "projected to generate 300 new terminal jobs, 2,800 construction jobs at the peak of construction and as many as 5,433 regional jobs annually that will be related to terminal operations at full build-out." Environmental, labor and local groups threw down about the expansion plan, but negotiated a compromise in the form of the fund. At the time, NRDC's David Petit wrote, "The coup-de-grace is that funding for the non-profit is tied directly to the Port’s growth so that, the more the Port grows, the more money will be available for community projects."

Three years after the approved expansion, Wilmington and San Pedro will benefit from a new community fund - as much as 50 million dollars set aside from Port revenues. This month the fund was finally created as a condition of a memorandum of understanding that allowed the TraPac container area to grow 3 years ago.

“This nonprofit will have a larger ripple effect that changes the way the Port of Los Angeles does business, and we applaud the Board for its decision,” said Serena W. Lin, staff attorney with Public Counsel.

“Port residents are routinely exposed to high levels of pollution that can lead to asthma attacks or an elevated risk of developing cancer. Protecting the health of local residents is of paramount importance, and this fund seeks to ensure residents are protected from any additional pollution and other impacts produced by Port operations,” said Adrian Martinez of Natural Resources Defense Council.

According to the Cunningham Report, "As of Aug. 31, the trust fund had a balance of more than $16 million. That sum is believed to include money earmarked for projects already identified, including $6 million for air filtration systems being installed in harbor area schools."

It'll be interesting to see how this money gets spent.