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BREAKWATER BREAKDOWN: Fumble!

Published 8/29/2007 on the District Weekly

The Port of Long Beach blew a win-win situation on August 20 when its Board of Harbor Commissioners voted 3-2 against joining the City of Long Beach in a reconnaissance study of the Long Beach Breakwater and splitting the $100,000 cost.

 

Despite Harbor Commissioner President Mario Cordero’s support, the proposal was asphyxiated by three appointees of former Mayor Beverly O’Neill, who asserted early in her term that the easternmost segment of the Breakwater was a national security issue.

Harbor Commissioners Doris Topsy-Elvord, James C. Hankla and Dr. Mike Walter claimed that supporting the recon study would confuse the port’s message to the community. Of course, opposing the study now confuses the Port’s new and much-promoted $116 million “Green Port” environmental focus.

Hankla, who was commission president last year, further asserted that funding the study would put the interests of beachfront homeowners, port tenants and workers at risk.

But, really, what are the risks of a reconnaissance study?

The study, to be conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will clarify with quantitative data a grossly misunderstood topic. The Corps’ report would have at least as good a chance of elucidating the risks to the community as any benefits.

If the Port of Long Beach had gotten on board with the primary research for this subject, it would have had to opportunity to either say, “We told you so, now leave that rock pile alone!” or, “We’re grateful to have been able to contribute to this applauded community improvement project!”

In other words, the Port had much to gain and little to lose, save $50,000. Pending the Corps’ results, the Port could have been a partial sponsor for either settling a long-disputed subject, or for Breakwater reconfiguration, which could potentially lead to a better Long Beach.

Call it a win-win lost.

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