PORT DIRECTOR LYTLE HAS BEEN PLAYING HARDBALL WITH TENANTS AT BERTH 55By LBReport.com
Letters and email obtained by LBReport.com show that the staff of the Long Beach Harbor Department delivered an ultimatum to its tenant on Berth 55—seeking to oust the last publically accessible commercial businesses in the Port of Long Beach—before the matter was discussed in an agendized closed session this year by the Long Beach Harbor Commisssion, and that the hardball continued even after the item became a matter for Harbor Commission discussion in closed session.
On April 19, 2012—nearly a month before Harbor Commissioners’ first closed session on the item this year—Port of Long Beach (PoLB) Executive Director Chris Lytle sent a letter to the Maehara family (the legal tenant at Berth 55) reciting that the family’s long-term lease expired in 2008 and giving notice that the City had elected “to terminate their holdover tenancy effective 180 days from the date of this correspondence.”
The Maehara family operates the Berth 55 fish market and Queen’s Wharf restaurant and subleases space to Long Beach Sportfishing.
Citing previous discussions, Lytle’s letter indicated in pertinent part that the City would spare the Maeharas the requirement that they demolish their improvements [structures] on the property and sought their signed concurrence to this and other terms.
On May 8, the Maeheras’ attorney emailed PoLB leasing officer Larry Ditchkus, indicating the family would agree to termination of the lease with 180 days notice but was seeking an amount equal to three months wages—roughly $25,000 month—for the Maehara’s (tenant’s) 16 employees as part of the lease termination settlement.
As previously reported by LBReport.com, on May 14 the Harbor Commission held an agendized closed session with its real property negotiator Karl Adamowicz (Director of Real Estate) “to discuss terms of mutual termination of the lease at 555 Pico Ave.” While exactly what took place in that closed session isn’t known, the net result isn’t a secret.