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San Francisco Bay Joint Venture Weighs in on Container Port
September 07, 2006

I was under the impression that staff was to come back to the City Council next week with a plan to conduct a feasibility study for the proposed container port at Wildcat Marsh. It is difficult to verify this schedule because staff has apparently been too busy to produce Minutes for the last City Council meeting on July 25, not to mention July 18, but thatís another issue.


At any rate, the container port apparently is not on the September 12 City Council agenda.


Meanwhile some additional information has come to light.


In a previous E-Forum, I criticized Oakland for not reading the San Francisco Bay Plan, which I had interpreted as reserving the Oakland Army base as a Port priority Area. However, I stand corrected. The following information was provided by BCDC:


For several decades, the Bay Plan indicated that if the Oakland Army Base were ever closed, the area should be used for expansion of the Port of Oakland. However, when it came time to actually close the base, the Port and the City came to BCDC with a proposed land swap under which the City of Oakland would get the inland portion of the base for general use and the Port would get the waterfront portion of the base, along with some other property that was not then designated in the Bay Plan for port use, for expansion of the Port. This swap would allow the port to reconfigure its operations in a manner that would make them more efficient and allow for much more cargo throughput, so much so that the Port was willing to forego its plans to fill 125 acres of the Bay for future port development near the Bay Bridge. BCDC unanimously approved this reconfiguration because the City of Oakland won, the Port won, and the Bay won. The Bay Plan was formally amended to reflect this agreement.

Since then the Port of Oakland has been moving ahead with the redevelopment and modernization of its facilities. The City has considered a number of ideas for the re-use of the closed Army base under its control. At one point, Mayor Brown suggested the area would be a good location for an Indian gaming casino. A large housing development is moving ahead near the old Southern Pacific railway depot. And, as you noted, the City is also looking at some other ideas. But, again, none of those would interfere with the operations of the Port of Oakland within the area reserved as a port priority use area by the Bay Plan.


What this tells us is that both the City of Oakland and BCDC agree that port capacity in San Francisco Bay is not an issue, now or in the future. In fact, the Port of Oakland remains at 50% capacity and is adequate to meet regional needs while operating inefficiently. An expert at the highest levels tells us that:


The throughput of Oakland could be vastly increased simply by getting the unions to agree to work more hours. Thus, it isnít the amount of space that is the critical factor in determining cargo throughput. Itís how the space is used. Singapore, for example, has much higher throughput because its port uses high rise space frames for holding containers and works around the clock.

Meanwhile, a prestigious organization, San Francisco Bay Joint Venture, has weighed in against the proposed container port (see attached letter). The San Francisco Bay Joint Venture consist of the bay area Audubon Council, Bay Area Open Space Council, Bay Planning Coalition, Citizens Committee to Complete the refuge, Ducks Unlimited, National Audubon Society, PRBO Conservation Science, Save San Francisco Bay Association, Sierra Club, The Bay Institute, The Conservation Fund and Urban Creeks Council, as well as a host of ex-officio members, including BCDC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


For questions, contact:

Beth Huning, Coordinator
San Francisco Bay Joint Venture
530C Alameda del Prado, #139
Novato, CA  94949
(415) 883-3854    fax (415) 883-3850

Also see Richmond Deep Port