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At WANA meeting, residents hear Port of LB update, concern about magnolia trees

The event also included a briefing about upcoming community events and businesses

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Photos by Denny Cristales | Signal Tribune
On June 18 at the Veterans Park Community Center, Jocelin Padilla, community-relations specialist with the Port of Long Beach, shared information with the Wrigley Area Neighborhood Alliance members at its meeting about the port’s update to the master plan and cargo-movement volume.

The Wrigley Area Neighborhood Alliance (WANA), on Monday, June 18, held its monthly meeting, which featured a Port of Long Beach guest speaker, an update regarding resident concern about magnolia trees dripping sap and the announcement of upcoming community events in the 6th and 7th council districts.

District 6 and 7 updates
Lou Baglietto, special advisor with 6th District Councilmember Dee Andrews’s office, announced upcoming events and public discussions for residents who are interested. The events will be as follows:

• The Second Street Band performance, featuring the blues, at MacArthur Park, 1321 E. Anaheim St., on Saturday, June 23 from 4pm to 6pm
• Neighborhood clean-up event on Saturday, June 30 at 2331 Locust Ave. at 8am
• 6th District Day at the Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave., on Sunday, July 8 from 1pm to 4pm
• Night at the Museum at the Long Beach Museum of Art, 2300 E. Ocean Blvd., on Thursday, July 12 at 6pm
• The Kool Kats performance, featuring jazz, at Veterans Park, 101 E. 28th St., on Saturday, July 21 from 4pm to 6pm
• Public discussion on short-term rentals, such as Airbnbs, on Saturday, July 21 from 10am to noon at an unspecified location
• A screening of A Wrinkle in Time at Veterans Park, with free popcorn, on Friday, Aug. 20 from 7:30pm to 9pm
• Neighborhood clean-up event at Veterans Park on Wednesday, Aug. 25 at 8am
• 6th District Night at the Aquarium on Thursday, Sept. 6

Baglietto said work on the Willow Street Pedestrian Project, sidewalk renovations that will span several blocks in both directions of Long Beach Boulevard, will begin in July and continue until January. He said to expect some traffic delays during the six-month time frame along Long Beach Boulevard.

There also new businesses in development.

LINC Housing will be on the 1900 block of Long Beach Boulevard, and Vistas Del Puerto will be on the 1800 block of Locust Avenue. Across the street from LINC Housing will also be Mental Health America. A senior-living facility is also in development at the 2400 block of Long Beach Boulevard. Other businesses include Jamba Juice, which is already open at the Wrigley Market Place, where new tenants Wingstop and Waba Grill will soon arrive, Baglietto said.

Shane Mckeithen, field deputy with Councilmember Roberto Uranga’s office, provided 7th-district updates about public works and parks.

Stump removals are set to happen early next month on the 2500 block of Daisy Avenue and the 1800 block of Main Avenue. To increase public safety at the intersection of 21st Street and Orange Avenue, the City of Long Beach’s Public Works Department will be converting it from a two-way stop to a four-way stop.

Residents citywide have also recently complained about magnolia trees dripping dark-red sap on their driveways, according to Mckeithen.

He said City arborists inspected the trees and confirmed they are dripping as a result of a pest infection known as the magnolia and tuliptree scale, which literally feed on the tree, potentially killing it.

Mckeithen said a specialized insecticide is currently being applied to a select number of trees and their roots in the neighborhood with cooperation from the owners of the home who are located in front of them. City arborists are also asking residents to water the magnolia trees to help them recover from the disease.

“We currently have test-group trees,” Mckeithen said. “The finalized results of testing efforts should be completed within the next 45 days. It is about 20 trees they are doing the test on. They wanted to make sure that, if these trees are successful, we’re going to be continuing to implement the testing on another larger amount of the trees and then continue throughout the city to ensure that the tuliptree scale is removed.”

Shane Mckeithen, field deputy with Councilmember Roberto Uranga’s office, updated residents June 18 at the Wrigley Neighborhood Alliance (WANA) meeting about a citywide complaint regarding magnolia trees dripping dark-red sap. He said City of Long Beach arborists confirmed the sap is a result of a pest infection that literally feeds on the tree, potentially killing it. The City is currently applying an insecticide to cure the trees in the neighborhood.

He said residents should call the City of Long Beach offices to report magnolia-tree issues.

The recently re-elected Councilmember Uranga also gave some remarks to the WANA attendees that Monday evening.

“It’s always a pleasure to know that you’re engaged and concerned about your neighborhoods,” he said, “and you’re always here because you have the opportunity to not only share what is happening in your community, but it’s also an opportunity for us to listen.”

Port of Long Beach briefing
Jocelin Padilla, community-relations specialist with the Port of Long Beach, presented a brief overview of the port’s 2017 numbers and projected growth in the next half of this year.

In 2017, the Port of Long Beach moved 7.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of cargo and generated $180 billion in trade, Padilla said. Currently, the Port of Long Beach employs roughly 316,000 people in Southern California, 30,000 of which are in Long Beach.

“We’ve just had the highest year we’ve ever had in our history,” she said. “[…] We just recorded our busiest May in history, as well. We’re going to continue breaking those records, because the economy is booming, and you’re seeing this happen at all ports. Whatever is happening at the ports is really the pulse of what’s happening in the economy. We are projected to do quite a bit more.”

In a graph showing the world’s busiest container ports, Shanghai, Singapore and Shenzhen all currently top the list of total TEUs moved last year, which was roughly over 20 million TEUs each. Long Beach is currently 22nd on the list at the aforementioned 7.5 million TEUs, four spots behind Los Angeles, which processes about 1 million more containers in comparison.

In the United States, the top-five busiest ports, in order, are Los Angeles, Long Beach, New York/New Jersey, Savannah and Seattle/Tacoma.

Similar to the narrative provided by Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, in January at his State of the Port address, Padilla also emphasized the importance of e-commerce, citing that customers expect to get what they want, when they want it and where they want it.

“In this industry, time is money,” she said, “more so than in any other industry.”

In his remarks in January, Cordero quipped that the port would soon become the “Amazon” and “Tesla” of harbors. In the same way Tesla is innovative in technological advancements, the Port of Long Beach strives to do the same.
In her presentation, Padilla demonstrated an automated-guided vehicle (AGB), which requires no driver and operates completely on mechanical engineering and sensors.

“It’s a real amazing thing to see,” she said, “this technology that you really don’t see at any other port in the world. And, it’s working very efficiently here.”

The Port of Long Beach has also been consistently working on updating its master plan, which was last updated in 1990. The California Coastal Act of 1976 requires that ports have master plans that outline strategic goals, operational initiatives and environmental policies.

The Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project is about a year away from completion, according to Padilla.

As reported by the Signal Tribune this month, the project, in its final phase, led to a new detour route that opened this month for traffic heading north onto the I-710. The detour will be accessible for one year until the bridge is completed.

The two main towers of the bridge, sized at 515 feet, were topped off earlier this year, and the project generated 3,000 jobs, Cordero said in January. Duane Kenagy, deputy executive director with the Port of Long Beach, said in an interview with the Signal Tribune this month that the final result will be “an iconic addition to the skyline of Long Beach.”

Padilla said there is currently not a finalized name for the bridge.

The next WANA meeting is Monday, July 16 at 7pm at Veterans Park.

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At WANA meeting, residents hear Port of LB update, concern about magnolia trees