San Pedro commerce chamber asks LA mayor to name locals to harbor commission


The San Pedro Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors sent a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass on Thursday, March 30, requesting that three of the five LA harbor commissioners be residents of the San Pedro and Wilmington communities.

No response had been received by the end of Thursday, though Bass defended the proposed appointments in a statement earlier this week. A copy of the chamber’s letter was also sent to Los Angeles Councilmember Tim McOsker, who represents the Harbor Area.

The Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, is preparing a similar letter, according to a staff member who answered the phone.

The issue has arisen as the new mayor, elected in November, began proposing new appointments this week for the harbor commission that oversees the Port of Los Angeles.

“We’ve been discussing this since last fall,” said Elise Swanson, CEO and president of the San Pedro chamber. The board, she said, currently has about 21 members with a mix of small business, community and corporate representation.

“We’ve always advocated for local representation on the Board of Harbor Commissioners,” said Swanson, who was on staff for former Councilmember and current Supervisor Janice Hahn in the early 2000s. “Going into (this) mayoral campaign we had three appointed from the Harbor Area and when we saw the first two appointees were from City Council District 14 — East Los Angeles — and two local commissioners were being removed, we thought we had to weigh in.”

Mayor Karen Bass submitted documents on March 21 nominating two new commissioners — former U.S. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard and Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy Research Director Michael Munoz , both of whom live in City Council District 14 — top replace San Pedro resident Anthony Pirozzi and Wilmington resident Lucia Moreno-Linares.

They appoinments require City Council confirmation.

“Representation from the Harbor Area is essential to the integrity of the Board of Harbor Commissioners,” the chamber’s letter said. “The Mayor’s Office has had a long and successful history of appointing commissioners from the communities most affected by the Port’s decisions. We hope that this practice continues.”

The letter stressed the work the chamber had done with the Port of Los Angeles over the past 20 years as plans were made to redevelop the waterfront.

“We understand the benefit of local representation and the importance of local input in the decision-making process,” the letter stated. “It is a priority for our organization that our harbor communities have a strong representation on the board.”

More nominees are expected to be named by the mayor. McOsker said earlier this week he believes there will be two local members on the panel when the process is complete. Diane Middleton of San Pedro remains on the panel currently. The other two sitting commissioners, Jaime Lee, who serves as president, and Ed Renwick, vice present, do not live in the Harbor Area.

Bass, in a written statement earlier this week, said her appointments “recognize the port’s role locally, nationally and globally, as will future appointments that will be made soon.”

“Together,” the mayor added, “these two appointees have decades of relevant experience and a wide breadth of expertise of the port and surrounding communities.”

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