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  Honda Returns to Port of Richmond
September 18, 2010

Two stories and an editorial below describe the official opening of the Honda Port of Entry at the Port of Richmond. This is a textbook example of a win-win project that had something for everyone.

To those who are obsessed with jobs above all else, the facility has hired over 200 employees with preference to Richmond residents, and more are coming.

To those who are concerned with City services and programs, the facility will bring millions into the City’s general fund.

For those concerned with the environment and quality of life, the project has paid for substantial expansion of railroad quiet zones (Ear Aches: Noise Pollution Rattles Nerves, Harms Health, August 28, 2010), completion of the Bay Trail to Point Potrero (Ferry Point Loop of San Francisco Bay Trail, August 18, 2010), and a Clean Air Action Plan for the Port of Richmond.

For fans of Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park and historic preservation, the project paid for upgrades to several of the historic buildings at former Shipyard 3 and guaranteed sufficient parking and future public access for their adaptive reuse.

I probably missed something important, so let me know.

Every project in Richmond should meet this test of fulfilling multiple objectives.

Honda Returns to Port Richmond

The company will bring in 145,000 cars a year

By Christina Lopez, Richmond Confidential on September 15, 2010 - 1:07 p.m. PDT
Courtesy Richmond Confidential
More than 200 people attended Honda’s grand opening.
Richmond officials celebrated the return of American Honda Motor Company to the city's port on Tuesday.
Last April, the company opened its third West Coast port facility in the city's historic shipyard district. Now that the operation is fully up and running, Honda will bring more than 145,000 cars per year into Northern California by way of the Port of Richmond. Over the next 15 years, the project is expected to generate $60 to $120 million for the city, port officials say. Already, it has created 200 blue-collar union jobs.
“Six months ago, this was an empty building with a big piece of asphalt,” said Dennis Manns, Honda’s assistant vice president.
At a luncheon at the Point Potrero Marine Terminal, Honda representatives and City Council members Tom Butt, Nat Bates, Maria Viramontes, Ludmyrna Lopez and Jim Rogers praised the project.
“I am very excited we are finally here,” said Councilmember Ludmyrna Lopez. “I’m so glad we’re able to bring this much needed economic vitality to Richmond.”
The Honda project also builds on the city’s green reputation.
Before the Richmond facility opened, Honda vehicles built in Mexico and Canada came to Northern California through the ports of San Diego or Portland, Ore. According to Honda’s website, shipping these vehicles through Richmond will eliminate the need for more than 1.5 million miles of truck travel each year.
“We reduce the environment impact by 4,500 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually by eliminating truck traffic,” said Honda spokesperson Marcos Frommer.
Honda used to import cars through Richmond, Councilmember Bates said. But in the 1980s, it moved its shipping operation to Long Beach. In 2006, the Richmond City Council approved a proposal to bring the Japanese automaker back. But bringing the project to fruition took several years because of the need to research the environmental impact, extend the railroad tracks and retrofit the facility.
Editorial: A little good economic news for Richmond and the Bay Area
MediaNews editorial
Posted: 09/16/2010 12:01:00 AM PDT

GOOD ECONOMIC news has been in short supply during the prolonged economic downturn, which has hit California harder than most states. But through vision, cooperation and investment in its dock facilities, Richmond has lured Honda back to the city.
The auto company will ship at least 145,000 cars a year to the renovated port, which has undergone $37 million in improvements. A new rail yard, road work and improved berths paved the way for Honda to return after leaving Richmond in the mid-1990s.
The renewed operations will generate at least $85 million in revenues for Richmond over the next 15 years and will create about 200 jobs.
The successful venture is the result of Richmond's efforts and a partnership among Honda, Auto Warehousing Co. and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.
Also, there is a two-mile path that allows Bay Trail users to travel through the port property to the waterfront.
It took four years to bring Honda's return to fruition, starting with environmental reviews and hearings. There also was the all-too-common environmental lawsuit, which delayed the project by four months. Fortunately, it was settled when the city of Richmond agreed to implement clean-air action plans.
The first shipment of Hondas arrived in April, and now operations are fully under way, giving a much-needed boost to the city's and Bay Area's economy.
For the last decade and a half, Honda has shipped its vehicles through Portland, Ore., and San Diego. Cars were then trucked to dealers in Northern California.
Using the Richmond port again will eliminate the need for long-distance trucking of cars coming to the region, cutting 3,200 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually.
Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay is understandably pleased with Honda's return, but he also noted that the city will continue to work to expand operations at the port.
Richmond is looking at the possibility of attracting Chinese automakers to the Port of Richmond to bring cars to the U.S. market. Now that dock and rail facilities have been upgraded, Richmond is in a good position to bring new businesses to the port even in a slow economy.
The Honda success story serves as an example of what can be done when local governments cooperate with businesses and keep the public informed through open hearings.
Let's hope that Honda's return to the Bay Area is a harbinger of economic recovery in the region. We certainly could use some more positive economic developments.

Richmond, Honda celebrate automaker's return to Richmond port

By Katherine Tam
Contra Costa Times

Posted: 09/14/2010 03:28:40 PM PDT
Updated: 09/14/2010 05:32:02 PM PDT

A 2010 Honda Fit is the first car driven off of a transport ship as vehicle deliveries resume at...

RICHMOND -- Honda's back in town.
City officials on Tuesday celebrated the return and the benefits to be reaped: revenue and jobs.
"This is the model for what we can continue to do at the Port of Richmond," City Councilwoman Ludmyrna Lopez said.
Honda will move at least 145,000 cars a year through the port en route to the sales floor, generating at least $85 million in city revenue over 15 years and about 200 jobs.
The first shipment arrived in April and operations are under way with the completion of $37 million worth of port improvements. The upgrades included a new rail yard where the cars can be loaded, road work, improved berths and the addition of a 2-mile path that allows Bay Trail users to travel from Canal Boulevard through port property to the waterfront.
Officials from the city, Honda, Auto Warehousing Co. at the port terminal and Burlington Northern Santa Fe celebrated the partnership Tuesday, offering congratulatory speeches against a backdrop of balloons and shiny cars.
"This project involved a lot of risks, it involved a lot of vision," City Manager Bill Lindsay said. "I really feel we've made it to second base, but it also means we're not done."
The city will look for other ways to bolster the port, officials said. Richmond is exploring the possibility for Chinese auto manufacturers to enter American markets through Richmond, City Councilman Nat Bates added.
Honda operated in Richmond in the 1970s but stopped in the mid-1990s. Its West Coast entry points have been Portland, Ore., and San Diego, where Honda vehicles are then trucked to dealers in Northern California.
The first meeting to broach Honda's return to Richmond came four years ago, said port Executive Director Jim Matzorkis.
In subsequent years, officials completed the required environmental review and held hearings.
A resident challenged the adequacy of the environmental report in a lawsuit, which delayed the project for about four months. The city agreed in a settlement to implement clean-air action plans.
Opening a port of entry in Richmond means cars won't be trucked from San Diego, cutting 3,200 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually, said Dennis Manns, Honda's assistant vice president in sales and logistics planning.
"We're happy to be back in Richmond again," he said.
Katherine Tam covers Richmond. Follow her at Twitter.com/katherinetam.