Long Beach Mayor Richardson/ POLB Chair Weissman on State of the Port’s Nexus to the Success of “Opportunity Beach”


Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson joined Sharon Weissman, Board of Harbor Commissioners President, to deliver opening comments at the 2023 State of the Port. VX News excerpts Mayor Richardson and President Weissman's remarks highlighting the nexus between zero-emissions infrastructure investments at the port and the success of the City of Long Beach's 'Opportunity Beach' agenda. 

Mayor Rex Richardson: I've given a lot of speeches lately: an inauguration, a state of the city, and now we're at the state of the port. While this isn't my first time addressing you, it is my first time addressing you as our new mayor here at the port.

The success of our City of Long Beach is inextricably linked to the success of the Port of Long Beach. It links to our city, our region, our state, and our nation. We are the link to the global supply chain, making it possible for you to order a product from home and receive it the next day. One in five jobs in Long Beach are connected directly to our port. Across Southern California, it supports nearly 600,000 jobs. Across the United States, 2.6 million jobs depend on everyone who works here in our harbor

Here in Long Beach, the port is much more than just an economic engine. It paves the way for the City of Long Beach to become a global leader in curbing the effects of climate change and carbon emissions by transitioning toward a climate sustainable economy. That’s a key priority of our Opportunity Beach Agenda. Our transition to a more modernized and electrified port is in the best interest of our city and our residents.

Diesel trucks are the most significant drivers of poor air quality, which has a disproportionate impact on vulnerable residents and families in the Western and Northern parts of our city. By advancing our transition to clean technology and moving the maritime industry forward toward a zero emission future, we can improve the quality of air that our residents breathe and begin to close the 17-year gap in life expectancy that exists within our city of Long Beach.

We're already at work. I had an opportunity to meet with US Secretary of Labor, Marty Walsh, about how Long Beach is leading the way on preparing our workforce for the jobs of the future. There's a lot of interest right now at the state and at the federal level in supporting our cities and building green infrastructure. Our transition toward a more sustainable port will require us to invest in new large-scale infrastructure. By investing in things like on-dock rail capacity and establishing new electric vehicle charging stations, we will create thousands of good-paying union jobs that support Long Beach families.

As we look to the future of Long Beach, we'll also need to navigate through some of the fundamental shifts in the way that we deliver and fund our services in the city. For generations, Long Beach has provided critical services that have relied on a diverse set of revenue streams, some tied to the production of fossil fuels in our community. If we want to ensure that Long Beach has a strong and secure financial future, it means that we have to continue to think of new ways to generate revenue so we can deliver those quality services.

We need to grow our economy in new directions and set our sights on alternative revenue opportunities that build resiliency for the prosperity of our city. That means attracting new companies to our ports and to our airport, like industries in clean and renewable energy that establish their headquarters right here in Long Beach. Our port and our airport are critical amenities that will help ensure that Long Beach remains a gateway for new industries and technologies that will continue to push the boundaries of innovation.

As mayor, I fully support accelerating our transition toward a climate sustainable future by incentivizing local truck operators to convert to zero emission vehicles and creating public charging stations and working to double the clean truck rate, which will accelerate and significantly reduce environmental impacts on our Long Beach communities.

2022 was a critical year for our city and for the Port of Long Beach. We've already begun taking important steps in this direction. Over the past year, the Port unveiled new initiatives to make hydrogen fuel more readily available, announced trucking partner plans and electric fleets sooner than we imagined possible. At the end of 2022, one of our port operators welcomed its first delivery of five zero emission drayage trucks.

As you know, the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners is the governing body responsible for our city's harbor department and the Port of Long Beach. Each commissioner is a Long Beach leader appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council to bring their special talents to the board. Our current president is Sharon Weissman. She was elected by her colleagues to serve as Board President last year, and she brings a lot of experience to the Board. Please join me in welcoming Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners President Sharon Weissman.

Sharon Weissman: Thank you for joining us at the 2023 State of the Port. As you may know, we love to start the new year with a State of the Port event to give us the chance to both reflect on the past and look to the future, as this is our year of imagination.

Today marks not only the annual State of the Port, but the first time in three years we've been able to do this as an in-person event. During the pandemic, the port and our partners moved quickly to implement protective health and safety protocols.

Port operations kept going, and the supply chain kept moving. The work of the port and the supply chain kept many jobs and livelihoods intact, even as other sectors faced huge layoffs. It makes me proud the port did its part. Canadian sailor and writer Larry Pardey said, “There is no better tool or equipment you can have on board than a well-trained crew.” I truly believe what we have at the Port of Long Beach is a dedicated crew that kept things moving during the height of the pandemic.

The Port of Long Beach and our partners faced an unprecedented challenge with the pandemic. COVID slowed and then accelerated shipments. While we were no different from the rest of the world in terms of the virus, we had a special role: keep the cargo moving. With the pandemic, the public learned just how important it is for the supply chain to keep operating.

We were in the midst of the pandemic when we completed the 10-year construction of the Long Beach Container Terminal, the greenest terminal in North America. It was a major advantage to finish the third and final phase of LBCT as cargo surged. It added additional capacity at a crucial moment, helping the terminal to keep up with imported cargo.

In April 2022, we celebrated completion of the Pier G to Pier J double track project, boosting on-dock rail capacity during the pandemic. Of course, planning and design of our Pier B on-dock rail Support Facility progressed throughout the pandemic as we move ever closer to starting phase one of construction of this important project that will shift more cargo to trains, for a more efficient and greener way of moving target cargo.

Roy Disney said, “it's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” We know what our values are. We are the green port, which means policy changes and every capital Improvement at this port always include a commitment to reduce environmental impacts.

This port is a leader in sustainability. Look at our clean truck program. Over the next several years, it will collect hundreds of millions of dollars to hasten the transformation of the trucking industry at this port complex to the cleanest fleet in the world. I'm also very excited about the fact that these zero emission trucks deployed at this port will be able to serve many industries as well.

Through imagination and innovation, we've been able to accomplish so many great things. No truer thoughts than from a quote by William Blake, “What is now proved was once only imagined.” Well, let's imagine so much more shall we.

Imagine a smoother sailing 710 freeway. Though the 710 is not under the port's jurisdiction, it is the key to the movement of goods. We all need to work together to move forward projects on the 710 to make it safer, cleaner, and more efficient, not only for goods movement, but for the truckers, all the users, and the surrounding communities.

I think it's clear the Port of Long Beach has emerged from the pandemic more community-oriented, more sustainable, and more competitive than ever. As President of the Board of Harbor Commissioners, I'd like to assure you that my colleagues and I are very invested in the success of the port and our tenants, in the health of our surrounding communities, and the positive and mutually beneficial relationships with all our labor partners, cargo owners, ocean carriers, terminal operators, port teammates, and our communities.

Now to quote that other Disney, Walt Disney, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” Let's have the courage to pursue, together, a zero-emission port that provides the best goods movement service in the world. Thank you so much for joining us for the 2023 State of the Port of Long Beach.

“As we look to the future of Long Beach, we'll also need to navigate through some of the fundamental shifts in the way that we deliver and fund our services in the city. For generations, Long Beach has provided critical services that have relied on a diverse set of revenue streams, some tied to the production of fossil fuels in our community.”—Mayor Rex Richardson