December 2, 2022
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Opinion: New parking area will help Port of Hueneme thrive

IN THIS ARTICLE

By Kristin Decas

The Port of Hueneme ranks as one of the top six ports in the United States for automobile trade, supporting an industry that touches nearly every American. Passenger vehicles account for a quarter of all imports and exports at the Port of Hueneme, and last year totaled $5 billion for imports and $228.07 million for exports.

We have been working with car manufacturers and their shipping partners for more than 40 years. As an integral hub in the supply chain, we are currently working with the city of Oxnard to propose developing a temporary parking area, locally known as Project 34. Our goal for the project is to promote commerce, improve efficiency, create jobs, and help the environment while putting our community first.

Imports and exports of passenger vehicles account for the highest value of trade at the Port of Hueneme. Overall, trade through the port is responsible for 4% of Ventura County’s gross domestic product and provides employment for 6% of Ventura County’s workforce, with more than 20,000 jobs.
Projects like the proposed parking lot are integral in keeping trade and jobs in our community. This project would create 14 direct jobs and more than 16 indirect jobs for the life of the project, while adding $2.2 million in local salaries annually.

It would also create more work for hundreds of union, stevedoring, and other logistics workers at the port, as well as generate local construction jobs for the trades under our Project Labor Agreement.

The Facts About Project 34

• Light Industrial Zoning: Strategically located along the port corridor on Hueneme Road, about 1 mile from the port’s entrance, the proposed project site sits on privately owned land zoned as light industrial.

• Low Impact Auto Transport: The proposed vehicle storage site would provide up to 4,944 vehicle storage spaces. On a typical day a maximum of 30 cars per hour could be driven to and from the site, 10 at a time, six days a week.

• Temporary Use: The permit request is for a temporary use, allowing the port’s customer, Glovis, to operate on the property for three years with two one-year extension options, for a maximum of five years.

• Keeping the Land Within Reach for the Greater Community Vision: The proposed project would preserve the land for a potential community or different future use, but this is incumbent on working with the private owner. We have bought some time to make such a vision possible and we are here to help with that conversation.

As for the long term, we are looking at several other sites for a prosperous future of trade and commerce, and in that endeavor are committed to an open and transparent approach with robust community involvement, environmental analysis, and permitting. Join us as partners in this effort!

• Supporting Zero Emission Mandates and A Green Economy: Gov. Gavin Newsom has mandated sales of all new passenger vehicles be zero-emission by 2035. If approved, Project 34 supports this goal by making it easier for manufacturers of electric vehicles to manage their supply chains and bring these vehicles to the market through the Port of Hueneme, making us an integral hub in a zero-emission future.

Auto shipments are forecasted to increase in the aftermath of pandemic-driven supply shortages. By facilitating vehicle storage for our partner, Glovis, which imports Hyundais and Kias — some of the most in-demand low-emission and zero-emission cars on the market — the port is helping to ensure Glovis keeps its business here in Ventura County, where the good paying jobs they provide are essential to many in our community. Glovis supports 167 employees.

• The “Hueneme Way” Reduces Truck Traffic: Car shipments find their way to and from the Port of Hueneme via numerous countries from all around the world, including our nation’s allies of Mexico, South Korea, Japan, Germany, Italy and France.

Many of the vehicle exports manufactured in the U.S. get to the Port of Hueneme’s docks by rail, one of the cleanest transportation modes. Imported vehicles are driven directly from the docks to distribution centers outside the port’s gate, where they then get put on car carriers for transport to dealerships in approximately 15 western states.

With community at top of mind, this auto logistics plan — one with no auto-carrier trucks leaving the port, only cars going directly from the port to local distribution sites — was designed at the onset with the specific intent of reducing truck traffic through adjacent neighborhood streets.

Project 34 proposes to put the same community-friendly business model to work. Cars would be driven, not trucked, from the port to the temporary storage lot. From there, the cars would be driven to an automotive distributor and ultimately railed or trucked to their final destinations.

This type of transport method is unique to the Port of Hueneme. Other ports put cars on carriers and directly truck them from their gates to distribution centers. We reduce truck traffic through our local communities, protect our air, and avoid congestion, moving cars the “Hueneme Way.”

With initiatives like Project 34, we can support business, keep jobs local, improve our environment, and, by working together, cultivate a community vision.

• Kristin Decas is port director and CEO of the Port of Hueneme, a deep-water port owned and operated by the Oxnard Harbor District.