Karen Brooks from the Humboldt Bay Harbor Working Group in today’s Times Standard continues their crazy train propaganda and their war on the popularly “elected” Harbor District. We follow her diatribe that with a great opinion piece from the Trinity Journal
For most people, the decision to broaden the permitted uses of lands designated as Coastal Dependent Industrial (CDI) seems harmless, but to understand the context and implications makes the decision moot. Our Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District is leading the discussion for Humboldt County to expand the uses on lands protected for maritime activities, such as shipping and other related uses. The lands targeted for this change are primarily the Samoa Peninsula and Fields Landing.
People are opposed to this change. There are many reasons why this isn’t consistent with our current planning and five are listed here for your consideration. First, there is an overabundance of industrial lands available, like old mill sites. To change the harbor-related lands from marine activities to regular industrial allows the harbor district to compete with existing businesses like warehousing, office space or retail. The district has decided to become a real estate developer and shuffle non-coastal businesses for coastal lands, ignoring their state-mandated primary authority — the areas covered by the bay and the promotion of bayrelated commerce. How fair is it for private industrial park owners to compete against their own government?
The second reason is the lack of prior planning. For years a citizen group, the Humboldt Bay Harbor Working Group, has been advocating to bring the harbor district together with the other local agencies in the harbor area of the bay to jointly plan for harbor infrastructure and development. This common sense approach to planning for our harbor’s future has been met with huge resistance from the district, effectively squelching multi-agency planning for the harbor portion of the bay.
This proposed watering-down of maritime (CDI) zoning is another example of one agency practicing self-interest rather than a regional, collaborative planning approach.
Thirdly, Humboldt Harbor is the last under-development, deep-water natural port on California’s coast and is prime for investment.* During this economic downturn ports have been investing to be more competitive and there is demand for lands specifically protected for maritime. You may ask what has the harbor district done to market our harbor? Back in 2011 they eliminated their maritime marketing position and currently have a local leasing agent with no experience in maritimerelated business. Doesn’t sound like the harbor district is serious about maritime business, does it?
Fourth, two significant events have occurred in the past month that make the case for leaving the CDI zoning alone. 1) In June, the Trinity County Transportation Commission was awarded a $276,000 grant to complete the Upstate California Railconnect Feasibility study to look at a new rail connecting Humboldt Bay’s deep-water seaport with a national rail connection in the Sacramento Valley. This means that Caltrans, as the state’s leading transportation agency, considers the potential of Humboldt Harbor to be a valuable part of their maritime transportation system.
2) Also in June, the U.S. Maritime Administration’s Northern California Gateway Director visited our area and spoke about renewed federal transportation agency support for Humboldt Bay’s deep-water seaport.
When state and federal transportation agencies seem to have more interest in the success of Humboldt Bay’s deep-water seaport, than our local political will, and understand what a unique transportation asset we have in Humboldt Bay we must take advantage of this opportunity to its fullest. If the county devalues these lands or destroys the ability to attract seaport-reliant businesses to our port, then they will have effectively killed Humboldt Harbor as a seaport.
This leads me to my final point — it’s important to protect the lands for maritime uses because these types of businesses pay higher wages, provide a multitude of benefits and help fund our tax base. What is ironic is that these maritime businesses provide much more revenue for our Harbor District without competing with existing businesses. If the change is made, retail-type businesses and general agriculture will be included, ushering the marijuana industry onto lands with a higher and more sustainable coastal-dependent use. For the sake of our children’s future, join me in urging our supervisors to commit to harbor development by not approving multi-use coastal zoning.
*(keep repeating a lie over and over and people start accepting it as true)
Patrick Meagher of Weaverville has the perfect response to this BS in the Trinity Journal
Rail connect to Humboldt seaport not a game changer
Is it feasible to build a rail line from the “national rail system” in the Sacramento Valley to the proposed Humboldt Bay Seaport? Of course it is — given enough money to build it. If you build it, will the merchant ships loaded with shipping containers come to Humboldt? A resounding no is the answer, and here are the reasons why.
To start with you need to understand the problems identified in the Port of Humboldt Bay Harbor Revitalization Plan of February 2003, page 11, paragraph 2. It states as follows, “The scenarios that include a public general cargo terminal are not recommended because they are not supported by market analysis and they involve an unreasonably high level of risk. Almost all of the markets that would be involved in public general cargo terminal operations were identified as unattractive in the prioritization analysis, and Humboldt Bay was found to be uncompetitive in most of them as well. The ‘build it and they will come’ nature of public general cargo terminals, combined with short contract terms common in the trade, high customer leverage, and intense port competition, would result in excess capacity and level of risk that is not commensurate with the limited market opportunity available.”
Next, has anything changed since 2003 to improve the outlook for a shipping terminal in Humboldt Bay? No, not really. Stephen Carmel, senior vice president of Maersk Line Limited, tells us that today over half of all container cargo is component level goods and materials destined for manufacturing and assembly plants or just-in-time inventory-management systems. This means consistency, reliability and shipping schedule integrity are of paramount importance. The key goal of container shipping today is 99 percent on-time delivery.
On-time container cargo discharge and loading with intermodal terminal container transfer providing immediate access to main line rail networks are an absolute necessity for profitability. Container ships operate in networks or routes of many ports serviced by multiple ships on steady schedules. These maritime operations are a considerable part of the overall cost-efficiency picture of intermodal container shipping service.
Finally, there is the biggest issue, economies-of-scale. Cost of shipping is determined by cost-per-container. In other words, the larger the ship the more containers it can carry and total cost of transportation goes down. As an example, container ship Benjamin Franklin, operated by CMA, CGM and loaded with 18,000 containers called at the ports of Oakland and Los Angeles in late 2015. 11,229 containers were handled in Los Angeles using nine cranes during her 90-hour stay, generating an average berth productivity of 200 moves per hour.
So, how does the proposed Humboldt Bay Seaport stack-up against this kind of operation? It doesn’t and won’t. The Humboldt Bay Seaport is too small and isolated, even with a proposed 100-plus mile rail feeder line, to compete economically with container ports such as Oakland, with intermodal loading adjacent to the port, and the Los Angeles complex with portside intermodal loading. The point of this discussion regarding potential for Humboldt Bay Seaport is that it is still economically non-competitive with other West Coast cargo ports. Given this, there is no reason for rail-connect from Humboldt Bay to Sacramento Valley.
Well, the Transportation Commission has $276,000 to do the study, so how about the commission updating the 2003 Humboldt Bay Revitalization Plan (don’t tell me it doesn’t have anything to do with the proposed rail line as I have just demonstrated it has everything to do with it) as a starting point and use its recommendations to determine economic payoff for the rail line. Couple this with interviews of maritime shipping line executives to determine viability of a proposed Humboldt Bay Seaport as a marine cargo destination and departure point and, oh by the way, in case you didn’t know there is still no cargo handling infrastructure of any kind at the proposed Humboldt Bay Seaport.