The MFN Equity Summit 2015 Freight Infrastructure and Equity Tour – Long Beach CA and nearby cities

The Moving Forward Network hosted an outstanding tour at last week’s Equity Summit 2015.  It was interactive, educational, fun and well attended!

The Freight Infrastructure and Equity Tour traveled to the largest port complex in the U.S. to examine how port communities of Los Angeles and Long Beach have used organizing, coalition building, policy, and advocacy to place equity, environmental justice, and health at the center of port and freight transportation planning and policymaking.

We started in downtown LA, outside our hotel. It was the first time a lot of us in the Moving Forward Network had seen each other in a while, and there were new folks there too, so it was fun!

Martha Matsuoka, Associate Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy at Occidental College, kicked off the tour as we left downtown Los Angeles by explaining the regional context and history of goods movement, and the role of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the metropolitan area in global trade and logistics. We had a spirited conversation, with many joining in, including Juan Parras of t.e.j.a.s., exas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services
Angelo Logan, Moving Forward Network’s Policy Director, took the lead as we traveled south down the I-710 Freeway toward the Port of Long Beach, observing warehouses while surrounded by heavy diesel truck traffic.  He discussed the flow of goods from the ports to rail yards and warehouses, and talked about workforce, environmental, and health issues.  Angelo also talked about the proposed expansion of the I-710 Freeway, and the very well received Community Alternative 7. A spirited discussion followed, and many including Kim Gaddy of the New Jersey Environmental Federation, talked about conditions in their cities.

As we approached West Long Beach, Angelo discussed the lack of on-dock rail at most area port terminals, proposals for new rail yards in and adjacent to local communities, their negative health impacts, legal challenges, labor issues, and the Clean Truck Program.

Adrian Martinez, Earthjustice staff attorney, gave us an overview of the Port of Long Beach, and reviewed local impacts, the scope and scale of the Middle Harbor, the all-electric New Long Beach Container Terminal, and the capabilities of the Advanced Maritime Emissions Control System (AMECS) to clean up ship pollution.  He reviewed the Clean Air Action Plan, the China Shipping Settlement, and the failure of the Port of Los Angeles to do as it had agreed.

Christina Montorio, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Port Division Representative, and a truck driver joined for a discussion on the bus.  They told us about the port strike underway, protesting the misclassification of drivers as independent contractors by some firms, which deprives the drivers of the benefits and rights of employees.

After that, we stopped at the Wilmington Waterfront Park, stretched our legs near a beautiful community garden, and talked about the Harbor Community Benefit Foundation, community engagement, and an upcoming land use study.

After boarding the bus and traveling to San Pedro, we stopped at Lookout Point Park, from which we had a good view of the ports, and could see a layer of brown smog hanging below the clouds. 

Angelo Logan; Sylvia Betancourt, Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma Project Manager; Gisele Fong Executive, Director of EndOil, Inc.,and Martha Matsuoka reflected on our tour, led discussions on a variety of issues, including the impact of the ports, contrasts between the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, mitigation fund programs,  and the Sustainable Freight Action Plan.

On the drive back to our hotel, we talked about what we had seen, watched the excellent #ZeroEmissionsNow video, and planned for our next few days of working together.

To see more photos from the Freight Infrastructure and Equity Tour and other MFN activities at Equity Summit 2015, visit MFN Equity Summit 2015 Photos.

If you haven’t already done it, please take one minute to help clean up these 
and other ports and rail yards by signing our Zero Emissions petition!

Written by Jessica Tovar and Eric Kirkendall