Port of Oakland seeks improved maritime industry collaboration

In the aftermath of the failed effort by the Oakland A’s to build a ballpark and condominiums on the Port of Oakland property, the Port of Oakland’s Executive Director Danny Wan and Maritime Director Bryan Brandes sought support for major infrastructure upgrades to port operations.

Wan noted that the Port has won $600 million in new investments: “We’ve gotten … over $600 million of investment on grants from both the federal and state levels. Those go into projects like the Seventh Street access improvements, port efficiency, data improvements, and harbor strengthening.”

On November 14th, Wan explained to an assembly of maritime stakeholders that he had requested the Propeller Club of Northern California organize a meeting with Port stakeholders to discuss future projects and improved collaboration. He asked, “We get everybody in a room … to give us some ideas about what you think needs to happen at the Port of Oakland to grow our business …I’m so very heartened by … all of you showing up today.”

SSA Voices Concerns

Ed DeNike, President, of SSA Containers, which operates the biggest terminal at the Port of Oakland (Oakland International Container Terminal or OICT) said that the Port’s support for the failed Oakland A’s ballpark and condominiums at the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal created uncertainty. He said it undermined SSA’s ability to attract customers to the Port of Oakland: “We signed a long-term commitment with the Port of Oakland … We bought the biggest cranes in the world sitting at OICT handling any ship that’s going to be built now or for the next 20 years. We bought equipment … This thing that happened at Howard Terminal hurt us. We stopped getting any commitment from any carriers for not more than one year because they didn’t know what the future was in this Port. We need volumes and we need commitments. We can talk and say anything … that we want to (but) when carriers hear that the Port doesn’t care about them, I’m not saying it’s true, but that’s what they think. When the Port says that there’s going to be other uses for a marine terminal then … our customers need to know that the Port of Oakland is supporting the future of this Port then we can get long-term commitments.”

DeNike’s concern was repeated publicly and privately by other stakeholders who say they have confidence in the Port staff but do not have confidence in the City of Oakland. They say the City ignored pleas from truckers, the railroads, terminal operators, longshore labor, freight forwarders, and others that the ballpark and condominium project would be severely disruptive to Port operations.

DeNike was positive about the support SSA has received from International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 which represents longshore labor at Oakland: “We’ve worked with Local 10 for a long time. I feel Local 10 now is … the best I’ve ever seen them … I think … they realize that their future also is to get the job done. And I think the employer, not only SSA, but the other employers too, have convinced Local 10 that they have to step up to the plate.”


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