By Ivan Adame, Editorial Intern
The Jan. 26 community forum on the Port of Los Angeles’ proposal to cap its annual mitigation spending to 10 percent of its operating income provoked a heated response from the community.
The forum, which took place at the Warner Grand Theatre, began with a presentation from POLA Executive Director Gene Seroka. Seroka said that there are numerous challenges in business. That, in combination with its current annual spending and the exhausted borrowing of $1.1 billion out of a possible $1.2 billion, makes it necessary to have a new 10-year budget that must limit the spending of projects along the waterfront to 10 percent of its annual income. This will decrease the funding from a relative $60 million to $20 million.
The new time frame given by the proposal, along with the decrease in funding, has provoked a unanimous disapproval amongst the community and its leaders.
“We are asking that they be prioritized and that they be funded through the Harbor Department this next budget year, and that items such as litigation and mitigation for previous environmental issues be struck from the draft policy plan,” said John Preston Allen, president of the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council. “We do this in cooperation with all the neighborhood councils and to some extent the San Pedro, Harbor City and Wilmington chambers of commerce.”
“This is 40 years in the making,” said James Dimon, president of Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council. “We’ve had these meetings before. I think we’ve even met here, but the people of this community are asking that we get a working relationship that is continual so that our kids 40 years from now aren’t sitting in this room having the same conversation.”
More than 30 speakers from the community spoke that night with common concerns about the extended wait for a finished waterfront, the amount of money allocated for the projects, and the public image of the San Pedro and Wilmington waterfronts compared to ports in San Francisco, Long Beach and San Diego.
Seroka promised that these two meetings are the beginning of continued dialogue between themselves and the public.
“This is not meant to be one gathering, a snapshot in time,” Seroka said. “This is the beginning of what I consider an engagement for a relationship and partnership going into the future.”Read More