At its July 25 meeting, the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners authorized the framework for an unprecedented, voluntary $46.4 million program to lessen the impacts of Port-related pollution on the community.
The investment, expected to be disbursed over 12 to 15 years, adds to the $17.4 million the Port of Long Beach has awarded to community groups since 2009, for a total of almost $65 million. No other U.S. seaport has voluntarily committed as much funding for community-based environmental mitigation.
The previous funding from the Community Mitigation Grants Program helped pay for projects that included air-filtration systems at schools, renewable energy projects, energy efficiency upgrades and asthma outreach health programs.
Harbor Commission President Lori Ann Guzmán said the Board felt strongly about identifying an ongoing, long-term source to continue the program, which has helped the most vulnerable in the community, children and seniors.
“As commissioners, we live in Long Beach, so we understand for the Port to do well, we must do good,” said Guzmán. “Being the Green Port is in our DNA and our record as being leaders on the environmental front while being good neighbors is unparalleled. The proposed community mitigation program is the latest example of our longstanding and long-term commitment to the environment and the Long Beach.”
Before the Port could consider establishing a new mitigation-related program, state law required the completion of a study identifying the Port's cumulative impacts to air, traffic, noise and water. The study, released in April, valued the impacts at $46.4 million.
In early fall, the Port will host a public workshop to help develop grant guidelines for allocating funds to the variety of community health, facility improvement and community infrastructure projects identified in the study. The date will be announced when it’s confirmed. The Harbor Commission will decide on program rules later this year.
Funding is expected to be awarded beginning in 2017.
Photo caption: I Dig Long Beach volunteers plant trees at Hamilton Middle School in April 2016. The Port of Long Beach gave $671,200 from the Community Mitigation Grants Program to plant an urban forest of 6,000 trees in the city by 2020.