NOW AVAILABLE: LEE ADAMS TELLS THE STORY OF ‘SAVE BERTH 55′ ON GREATER LONG BEACH RADIOBy Greater Long Beach
Greater Long Beach Radio’s Sept. 20 program about the Save Berth 55 campaign can now be heard anytime—in the show’s archives and as a podcast—by [FOLLOWING THIS LINK].
The program retraces and further explores the story of a small group of Westside Long Beach locals whose fast-and-loosely mustered crusade against the Port of Long Beach won a temporary reprieve for three longtime harbor-front businesses facing eviction from a small landing called Berth 55—and did it in less than three weeks.
Greater Long Beach Radio host Dave Wielenga leads this in-depth look at a rare (and don’t forget, still temporary) success by community activists in Greater Long Beach—how it was accomplished, what it means, where it goes next—through a conversation with Save Berth 55 campaign liaison Lee Adams and GreaterLongBeach.com business writer Sean Belk.
The Greater Long Beach Radio interview with Adams and Belk on September 20 occurred exactly three weeks after the Save Berth 55 campaign 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 September 13, a small group of Port officials met with Berth 55’s business owners and granted a “short-term reprieve.”
On Sept. 17, that reprieve was formalized by the Harbor Commission, which voted to temporarily halt eviction of the businesses. The commissioners’ vote in closed session 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.
According to Adams, 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.”