California Executive Order Directs Ports of LA-LB to Locate Storage

An executive order signed by California’s governor directs the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to look for state-owned properties that can be used for temporary storage, as marine terminals largely ignore the call from the ports and President Joe Biden to move toward around-the-clock operations.

“While goods movement and supply chain management challenges are largely within the purview of the federal government and industry, the state can take action to reduce the congestion in California's ports to ensure people in California and across the country and world can access goods and supplies,” the order states. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the order Wednesday.

The executive order also seeks to identify additional truck routes that would be exempt from the state’s gross vehicle weight limits. It's not clear how much that would help, given truckers have been frustrated with chassis scarcity and what they say are restrictive appointment requirements and poor service from terminals, rather than weight restrictions.

Along with the short-term measures, Newsom said the state’s finance department will look to identify items for California’s next budget to address funding for port infrastructure, clean truck efforts, and workforce training.

The executive order came a day after Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka sent a letter to Biden asking that a long-term, local upgrade be included in the $17 billion set aside for port spending in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Specifically, Los Angeles wants to develop better access to 80 acres of nearby Terminal Island that would serve as overflow storage for containers. The $50 million project would add grade separation to allow access over rail tracks surrounding the site.

The executive order reflects growing momentum for moving containers off congested marine terminals to nearby sites, with the nation’s top port leaders urging Biden to do just that and tap national defense funding if needed.

While there may be an easing of trans-Pacific ocean pressures, key port metrics suggest cargo flow is only getting worse. There were 71 container ships at anchor and awaiting berth as of Wednesday, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California. Container dwell times at marine terminals in Los Angeles-Long Beach reached a new high in September, at 5.94 days, roughly twice what terminal operators say they should be.

Source: Journal of Commerce