A commission formed to promote prosperity and stability to the Californian city of Los Angeles has suggested a possible merger between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The Blue Ribbon Commission 2020 stated that by unifying under a single banner, the two ports would not only create the busiest complex in the United States, but would stand out as the fifth busiest port in the world.
The commission noted that the constant influx of new custom at either port has often been a case of customers merely switching from LA to Long Beach or vice versa, “one only has to study the details” to see that this is “not bringing new jobs to the region.”
Furthermore, with the new Panama Canal expansion near completion, the commission stated that the two ports should instead work in harmony to carry the new influx of vessels. They “should be competing with ports in other regions, not with each other.”
The commission used the partnership between rival states New York and New Jersey as an example of the successes such a merger could provide.
Many have voiced their support at such a proposal. Speaking to South Carolina public radio station KPCC, Sung Won Sohn, a former member of the LA Harbour Commission agreed that competition so far between the two ports was not bringing any new jobs:
“We have been trying to steal customers from each other, and essentially we are hurting ourselves.”
However, others were less enthusiastic.
Rich Dines, vice president of the board of harbour commissioners for the Port of Long Beach said it was “one of the worst ideas” he had ever heard.
Speaking to KPCC, Dines stated that competition between the two ports was not only healthy for their development, but necessary at keeping them afloat.
“We make each other better by being two separate ports.”
He then noted that there was already collaboration between the two ports on important issues like clean air, clean water, port security, port energy. “That’s all good. But we’re two separate businesses,” he added.
Los Angeles spokesman Philip Sanfield, whilst not totally against the deal, still showed some hesitance to any large scale collaboration in the near future, saying to KPCC that “we’re willing to sit down and see if there are additional collaborative efforts that would be beneficial to the ports and the region.”
Interim head of the centre for international trade and transport, California State University, Tom O’Brien summed up the situation saying such a unity would be politically “herculean.”
“It’s not just a merging or integration of two ports but in many ways, it’s a merging of two different city cultures that are reflective in port operations.”