Long Beach Vice Mayor Robert Garcia sent a letter to the Port of Long Beach Thursday, seeking a compromise that might spare eviction of Long Beach Sportfishing and the other dozen or so small businesses at Berth 55. (See attached letter)
The Presponded that while it intends to go forward with plans the businesses have known about since 2008 to put a fireboat and station at Berth 55 (see map), they are now vigorously trying to help relocate the waterfront port tenants.
The leaseholder with the Port of Long Beach is the Maeharas family, which has been there for decades, all agree. The family runs a restaurant and fish store and sublets to perhaps a dozen small business owners who dock sportfishing, commercial fishing and passenger boats in the back of a channel where a fire station would be relocated to make way for Desmond Thomas Bridge construction.
In its letter to Garcia, the Port of Long Beach noted that the Maeharas family was notified of the need for it to move since 1980, and has been on a year-year lease since. The port said it nonethless will seek to help the businesses move.
"If they are doing all that," responded Long Beach Sportfishing owner Mike Redlew, who has been speaking on behalf of the family, "we are completely unaware of it."
Redlew just drafted a response to the attached letters, and gave it to Patch. It reads:
"To whom it may concern,
It is unfortunate that the Port of Long Beach continues to stand by a a plan of action that is inconsistent with the dialogue that has taken place beginning with our meeting of May 30th and continuing through a 6-week cohabitation discussion culminating on July 18, in which they fully participated. To characterize the Berth 55 location as the best to locate emergency services is inconsistent with the makeup of the Channel 3, and poses recognizable risks to the fire boat's ability to respond during berthing operations, bunker operations, not to mention risks to the tenants in the channel caused by the vessel wake. Any statements to the contrary ignore our intimate knowledge of the navigable waters of Channel 3, the many decades long experience of our licensed mariners at our location, and the obvious limitations of that location that contributed to the uninterrupted long term tenancy of the current businesses there.
"I am also not aware of any assistance offers from the Port beyond an undetermined short term extension but I am keenly aware of the ports written denial of the Maeharas request for specific reparations to assist their employees following the termination notice.
"It is our hope that the Port rethink their commitment to spend taxpayer dollars on a non ideal location for their emergency service and allow the public the only view of the harbor that will not involve driving, walking or riding over a very large bridge."
The dispute will probably not be settled today or overnight.
Long Beach Fire Chief Mike DuRee weighed in on the dispute, and answered many questions about locating the new fire station and fire boat, which Patch will bring you soon.
To read the prior story on this dispute, click here.