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Port’s public-comment hearing on Master Plan update elicits no community feedback

Stakeholders still have a chance to provide remarks on plan, which was last updated in 1990.

At+the+Michelle+Obama+Neighborhood+Library+on+Aug.+30%2C+John+Kim%2C+project+manager+for+the+Port+Master+Plan+Update+with+the+Port+of+Long+Beach%E2%80%99s+Master+Planning+Division%2C+opens+a+public-comment+meeting+for+the+undertaking.+However%2C+no+community+members+in+attendance+provided+any+input+during+the+event.
At the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library on Aug. 30, John Kim, project manager for the Port Master Plan Update with the Port of Long Beach’s Master Planning Division, opens a public-comment meeting for the undertaking. However, no community members in attendance provided any input during the event.

At the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library on Aug. 30, John Kim, project manager for the Port Master Plan Update with the Port of Long Beach’s Master Planning Division, opens a public-comment meeting for the undertaking. However, no community members in attendance provided any input during the event.

Cory Bilicko | Signal Tribune

Cory Bilicko | Signal Tribune

At the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library on Aug. 30, John Kim, project manager for the Port Master Plan Update with the Port of Long Beach’s Master Planning Division, opens a public-comment meeting for the undertaking. However, no community members in attendance provided any input during the event.

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When the Port of Long Beach hosted its public-comment session on Aug. 30 regarding the development of its comprehensive update to its existing Port Master Plan (PMP), staff members had in place a timer with large numbers for all in attendance to see during each speaker’s three-minute allowance, a stenographer for note-taking, and comment cards ready to be filled out. However, not a single individual took to the microphone to voice any concerns or feedback on the project.

After John Kim, project manager for the Port Master Plan Update with the Port of Long Beach’s Master Planning Division, had opened the meeting and showed a brief video on the update, Janna Morimoto, environmental specialist with the port, gave an overview of the project and its environmental-impact report (EIR).

“I’ll be outlining the key environmental issues that have been identified as needing study in the program EIR,” Morimoto said. “I’ll be describing the environmental-review process and then taking public comment.”

Morimoto explained that the PMP guides port development within the harbor district and provides a “road map” for how the port will use its land and water areas over the next 20 years.

“The [PMP] is required by the California Coastal Act of 1976, and it delegates permitting authority to the port’s board of harbor commissioners, for development projects within the port’s harbor district,” she said.

Morimoto then described the expanse of the harbor district, which includes nearly 2,700 acres of land and more than 4,500 acres of water. The current Master Plan divides the harbor district into 10 planning districts and identifies permitted land and water uses. The district is bounded by Wilmington to the north, Long Beach to the northeast and east, Long Beach Harbor to the south and the Port of Los Angeles, as well as San Pedro, to the west.
“The harbor district is broken up into different planning districts, and each [has] different land and water uses,” Morimoto said.

She explained that the PMP was last updated in 1990, and there have been 12 amendments since that time, reflecting changes to land and permitted uses in the different planning districts, projects that involve filling in water to create new land, changes in the global-shipping industry, technological advances, climate change and energy sources, consistent with Green Port Policy objectives. That policy’s five guiding principles are: to protect the community from harmful environmental impacts of port operations; to distinguish the port as a leader in environmental stewardship and compliance; to promote sustainability; to employ the best available technology to avoid or reduce environmental impacts; and to engage and educate the community, officials said.

“So, the PMP update will include changes to existing land-use categories, reduction in the number of planning districts, changes to the planning-district boundaries [and] revisions to allow land uses and potential projects that may be constructed in the next 20 years,” she said. “Potential projects are in the planning or conceptual stages and may include terminal-redevelopment projects, cutting back land to create water area or filling in water area to create new land, support yards and facilities, rail-infrastructure improvements [and] recreational and public-access enhancements,” she said. “The specific timing and, in most cases, the scope of the potential projects, is conceptual at this time, as specific details of those projects have not yet been developed.”

Port officials say the project includes the following main tasks: to update the Master Plan and integrate previous amendments; to integrate other port initiatives, such as the Green Port Policy, into the update; to prepare a program EIR for the update in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA); and collect and incorporate public input into the planning and decision-making process. Preparing the update and related EIR, which began last year, is expected to be completed by fall 2019.

When the floor was opened up to comments from the general public that Thursday, and no one chose to speak, Morimoto concluded the event.

However, that session was not the last opportunity for residents and other stakeholders to share their thoughts on the update.

Courtesy Port of LB
A map shows the various planning districts currently at the Port of Long Beach, but officials say those designated areas may change, now that an update to the Port Master Plan is being developed.

The public-review period will continue through Monday, Sept. 10. Comments may still be submitted in writing, but officials must receive them no later than 4:30pm on Sept. 10 at [email protected], with the project title in the email’s subject line and a valid mailing address.

Another option is to mail comments to: Heather Tomley, Director of Environmental Planning, Port of Long Beach, 4801 Airport Plaza Dr., Long Beach, CA 90815.

The port will also host a draft EIR public hearing in spring 2019, although an exact date has yet to be determined.

Additional information and a sign-up form for updates are available at polb.com/masterplanupdate.

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Port’s public-comment hearing on Master Plan update elicits no community feedback