After months of rallies, public discourse and meetings where enraged community members voiced their love for Berth 55, the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners set aside the 180-day notice that would have displaced the businesses on Oct. 16.
Since the community forum at Queens Warf Restaurant on Aug. 29, where supporters of Berth 55's tenants--Berth 55 Fish Market and Seafood Deli, Long Beach Sport Fishing and Queens Wharf--proclaimed their outrage over the port's plans to replace Berth 55 with a fireboat station, supporters have attended city council and harbor commissioners meetings to continue the fight.
The pressure from activists was high, but the announcement appeared
last week to much surprise. And many are wondering, has the port
actually listened to the voices in the community? Has a juggernaut of
international commerce stopped their plans for continued progress
because of the voice of the people?
it's not clear how long Berth 55 will stay out of the way of the port's
wrecking ball. It's almost as if Berth 55 was sitting on the electric
chair, and at the last moment, the governor called in with what appeared
to be a pardon.
"We will do an environmental
analysis of the proposal for a new fire and security center at the
Berth 55 site," said Susan E. Anderson Wise, President of the Board of
Harbor Commissioners. "In the meantime, the 180-day notice has been
rescinded and the restaurant and sport-fishing vessels can stay."
Berth 55 has been granted more life, the port has not provided Lawrence
Maehara, owner of Berth 55 Fish Market and Seafood Deli, with a
definitive answer or any timeline to clarify the uncertainty of the
"It's not over yet," says
Lawrence Maehara. "The only thing that happened so far is that I get to
keep my foot in the door, and I get to stay. But it's only during
their EIR (Environmental Impact Report). And that could take up to a
year. But after that, who knows what's going to happen."
the uncertainty, Maehara is excited about the positive response from
the city council, Mayor Bob Foster and the possibility of staying in
business, but Maehara still believes he needs to continue the fight and
the hope of working with the port.
Maehara is staying positive, Michael Redlew, general manager of Long
Beach Sport Fishing, says he is cautiously optimistic -- though maybe
skeptical is a better phrase. He's not sure if the port is listening to
members of the community -- or just waiting for public outcry to
subside before moving forward.
"It could just
be a way to quiet the furor over it right now," Redlew said. "We
suspect that there's a possibility that they're just trying to quiet
everything down for a while, see if we can loose the weight of support
we have right now and come back later when things are all quiet and
people have forgotten about it a little bit."
the community waits to hear the results of the EIR and the port's plans
for moving forward. It's hard for many to believe that the port will
stop, but right now, it appears the port has listened.
term, I don't know," Maehara says on the future of Berth 55. "All I
know is that I've got to stay positive and keep up the good fight."