By Christian Guzman, Community Reporter
The Port of Los Angeles is a major contributor to Southern California’s economic system. In 2016, the Port of Los Angeles facilitated $272 billion in trade. One in nine jobs are connected to port operations. But not everyone benefits equally from port commerce.
On June 15, shopkeepers and truck drivers spoke to this inequity and pleaded for help at the Harbor Commissioners board meeting.
“Working at Ports O’Call Village is our way of life,” said Fernando Diaz, one of the long term tenants who owns botanic shop. “It is how we [workers] support our families. Now [the port and developers] want us out by October 2.”
About one year ago, the Los Angeles Harbor Commissioners approved a 50-year lease agreement with developers to overhaul Ports O’Call. But the developers, which include Jerico Development and the Ratkovich Co., are not expected to start renovations until 2020. The village tenants are confused and frustrated by the gap between displacement and new development.
Commissioners David Arian and Anthony Pirozzi expressed interest in going with port staff to meet tenants and explain what must happen in the next three years for Ports O’Call development to continue.
Michael Galvin, director of waterfront and commercial real estate at the port, explained the port’s rationale behind the gap.
“We are contractually obligated to deliver a certain parcel [of land] to the developer [by certain dates],” Galvin said. “Before we can turn the site over to developers we have to remove structures, remediate the site and prepare the sea wall. There is no way to do this without vacating the site.”
The tenants present understood this. But they objected to the port allowing more financially successful businesses, including the San Pedro Fish Market and Acapulco, to continue to operate.
“[That] is not fair, you and the developers are being selective and giving priority to the restaurants,” said Gloria Larajoni, owner of Dryer’s Ice Cream and three other shops. “We should meet and come to an agreement to all leave at the same time.”