GREATER LB RADIO: HOW DID “SAVE BERTH 55″ ACTUALLY SAVE BERTH 55?By Sean Belk
It was the Long Beach Harbor Commissioners who stopped the clock—temporarily, they said—on eviction proceedings instituted by the Port of Long Beach against the three businesses on Berth 55. The commissioners’ vote in closed session Monday granted the fish market, the restaurant and the sportfishing company a reprieve—temporarily, they said again—from the terms of the eviction notice issued by the Port in April, when they were allowed 180 days to vacate Berth 55. The deadline would have been Oct. 16.
But it was the fast-and-loosely mustered locals of Westside Long Beach and the campaign they called Save Berth 55 who somehow saved the day—that day, this day, and however many other days ultimately equal the Harbor Commission’s definition of “temporary.” And they did it simply by living up to their name.
Lee Adams, a longtime resident of Long Beach’s west side and an activist nearly as long, will be a guest on Greater Long Beach Radio this morning at 11 a.m. on KBEACH.org, the online station at California State University/Long Beach. The program will also be accessible later today—and 24/7 thereafter—via a link to the KBEACH.org archives as well as a podcast, both of which will be available on GreaterLongBeach.com.
Adams, who is expected to be joined by others from Save Berth 55, will be interviewed host Dave Wielenga, publisher of GreaterLongBeach.com. Business reporter Sean Belk will also be in the studio. Belk broke the Berth 55 story last May for the Long Beach Business Journal and has been covering the Save Berth 55 campaign for Greater LongBeach.com.
The show will examine the ingredients that accounted for the stunning success—and speed—of the Save Berth 55 campaign.
Today marks just three weeks since it began with an Aug. 30 community forum at Queen’s Wharf restaurant. Back then, Save Berth 55 was so lightly regarded that Vice Mayor Robert Garcia, whose 1st district constituents were organizing the forum, originally announced he would not attend. He changed his mind after a strong reaction by the public and in the press.
The atmosphere at the event no doubt moved other City and Port officials to rethink their positions. The questions they got from the crowd were tough, and the crowd’s reaction to unpopular answers was even tougher.
From there, things began to move even faster:
On September 4, members of Save Berth 55 addressed Long Beach City Council during public comments—and on the night council members were scheduled to approve the Port of Long Beach budget, which had been calculated under the assumption that the businesses on Berth 55 would be gone. But when the Port budget came up, Councilmember Gary DeLong immediately asked that it be delayed … he said, by the request of the Port.
On September 10, members of Save Berth 55 attended the Harbor Commission meeting. Again, they spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting. But this time, they seemed to be heard—the Port agreed to take another look at the issue.
On Sept. 17, that reprieve was formalized by the Harbor Commission, which voted to temporarily halt eviction of the businesses. Adams reports that Tony Rivera and Jane Kelleher, chair and vice-chair of the Westside Project Area Council (WPAC) and supporters Save Berth 55, made three requests during public comment after closed session.
Those requests include ensuring: “the businesses remain open for a year or to the conclusion of the EIR process – whichever is longer; the Port find another place for the fire station; and that the
month-to-month lease be lowered to make it the same as other like-Port-properties in the area, as it has been higher than anyone else’s thus far.”
Later that day, the Port issued a statement indicating its staff would also conduct an “environmental analysis”—officially referred to as an environmental impact report (EIR)—on the proposal for a new “fire and security center” at Berth 55.
The commissioners did not set a firm timeline for how long the establishments would be allowed to operate. Harbor Commission President Susan E. Anderson Wise simply said, “In the meantime, the 180-day notice has been
rescinded and the restaurant and sport-fishing vessels can stay.”