The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners will reconsider a coastal development permit it approved earlier this month for the APM Terminal at Pier 400.
The Los Angeles City Council voted Friday 12-0 to veto a Level One Coastal Development Permit that was granted to APM Terminals (APMT) in January so that it could make infrastructure improvements needed for new equipment at its Pier 400 terminal.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) opposed the issuance of the permit because it says the equipment is part of a plan by APMT to automate the terminal and eliminate the jobs of longshore workers. But on June 20, the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners in a 3-2 vote refused an ILWU appeal seeking to reverse the issuance of the permit.
The action by the City Council remands the decision to issue the permit back to the Board of Harbor Commissioners for further discussion. A meeting already has been scheduled for July 11 to discuss the permit.
Port spokesperson Phillip Sanfield said that the agency will continue to work with Mayor Eric Garcetti to facilitate further discussions between the ILWU and APM Terminals and “do everything it can to find common ground and a path forward.”
Hundreds of longshoremen and representatives from communities around the port attended the City Council meeting on Friday and dozens spoke against granting the permit. Some were longshoremen or had dockworkers as relatives and friends, and others were local business owners concerned that a loss of jobs would hurt the surrounding community. In addition to those in the City Council chamber, others gathered outside City Hall.
Gary Herrera, vice president of ILWU Local 13, said unlimited automation at the port would destroy jobs and hurt the surrounding community. He and others are asking for an expansive reading of the California Environmental Quality Act, saying that the economic impact of job losses at the facility on the surrounding community should be taken into account as part of the “environmental impact” of the changes APMT wants to make at Pier 400.
Taking note of the crowd, Herb J. Wesson Jr., the president of the City Council, said that he respected the work of the harbor commission, which is made up of volunteers appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council. But, he added, “sometimes we have to let people know that we are elected and they are selected and it is important that we do the job the people hired us to do.”
Councilman Joe Buscaino, who brought the motion to veto the permit before the City Council, said the Board of Harbor Commissioners did not have all the evidence they needed to properly decide whether to grant the permit.
Tom Boyd, a spokesman for APM Terminals, said the company was disappointed by the move by the LA City Council, saying it “disregarded the actions of the Port of Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners vote — and like Councilman Buscaino mentioned, we hope the situation will be resolved in the near future.”
Buscaino said an amending motion calls for a blue ribbon commission made up of port, labor and business leaders to address automation and how it will impact the local, regional and national economies.