Daily Breeze

Nov. 2, 2001

PORT FUNDING CLEARS HOUSE

By TOBY ECKERT
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON — Funding to deepen the main shipping channel at the Port of Los Angeles to clear the way for bigger container ships passed the House of Representatives on Thursday and is expected to get President Bush's signature.

South Bay lawmakers who secured the $2.8 million said the project would be a boon to the port and the area's economy. But foes of port expansion said it would cause noise and environmental problems.

The funding is contained in an energy and water spending bill for fiscal year 2002, which started Oct. 1. The Senate is expected to pass the legislation soon and send it to Bush.

The channel would be dredged to a depth of 53 feet from its current 45 feet. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles, said the project would double the port's capacity over the next decade.

“I'm pleased that this funding will permit the project to go forward at least a year earlier than previously expected,” she said.

“Our economy is dependent on both tourism and trade, and our ports service both,” said Rep. Jane Harman, D-Redondo Beach.

But Noel Park, president of the San Pedro and Peninsula Homeowners Coalition, was anything but pleased. More port capacity will mean more truck traffic, more noise and more pollution, he said.

“It just leads to terrible impacts on these communities” around the port, he said.

Local activist Janet Gunter said, “These kinds of deep-sea vessels were never intended in the master plan to do business in this port.”

Nick Tonsich, president of the Harbor Commission, said a deeper channel “doesn't necessarily mean more (ship) traffic per se.”

“There are certain efficiencies with larger ships. There are less ship movements in and out of the port,” he said.

The legislation also includes funding for several other South Bay projects:<P>
$400,000 to reduce and manage sediment at Marina del Rey that flows in from Ballona Creek.

-- $100,000 for ecosystem restoration along Ballona Creek.
-- $40,000 for operation and maintenance of the marina at Marina del Rey.
-- $400,000 to study beach erosion and replenishment along the coast of L.A. County.