‘A multi-faceted problem’: Lawmakers confront major congestion issues at California’s ports

California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — California lawmakers held a hearing on congestion at the state’s two largest ports and its impact on supply chain issues.

On Wednesday, leaders of the Select Committee on Ports and Goods Movement called the supply chain issues and clogging at some California ports the result of a perfect storm, from increased demand, COVID-19 shutdowns and lack of infrastructure.

“This is a multi-faceted problem that requires multi-faceted action,” said Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach. “There is not one switch you can flip.”

One point made clear in the hearing is how this is affecting California’s agriculture industry and significantly hampering its ability to export, which lawmakers said adds another sense of urgency to this problem.

The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are responsible for 40% of the nation’s imports and 25% of its exports.

California’s Association of Port Authorities President Daniel Wan told the select committee the clogging at California ports is happening, in part, because of a lack of investment by the state.

“There’s nearly an 11 to 1 imbalance between the investment made in California to other states. That imbalance has to be corrected,” Wan said.

Port officials told lawmakers they need more chassis — or equipment that helps move cargo — transparent data, workforce training and land to offload cargo short term.

Leaders in the Newsom administration said Wednesday the state is working on identifying that land by Dec. 15.

“We now have a pretty robust list of several dozen,” said Dee Dee Myers, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s senior economic advisor. “There are complications for each of them, but we’re working through questions.”

Officials told the committee the number one issue is getting cargo off ships. Republican lawmakers and the California Retailers Association pointed to state policies and regulations as contributors to that problem.

“We’re not saying repeal everything, but we’re saying let’s talk about it,” said California Retailers Association President Rachel Michelin. “But are we hindering the supply chain with these regulations?”

Some stakeholders have said those regulations include a reclassification of independent contractors — including truckers — as employees. Another regulates warehouse work quotas.

“Is the administration willing to look at those laws and ordinances and give it a fresh look?” said Assemblyman Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield.

“I think there’s some things we’re willing to change but other things, less so,” Myers said.

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