Calling it "everyone's Port," the Port of Oakland's new leader wants an industrial sanctuary to sustain economic vitality here. Executive Director Danny Wan delivered his State of the Port address yesterday saying there's plenty to feel good about. But he asked a sold-out audience of 350 to help him buffer the Port as Oakland develops.
"Our leaders recognize the Port of Oakland is an indispensable jobs and economic engine," said the Executive Director in his first major address since taking over last November. "Indeed, we are everyone's Port, but being indispensable means, we have to preserve the Port."
Mr. Wan asked the audience of business and community leaders to declare a need for an industrial sanctuary policy. The objective would be twofold, he said:
--Preserve industrial land use, transportation and infrastructure in and around the Port; and
--Accommodate the transportation, commerce, business and job needs of the region.
The Executive Director, formerly the Port Attorney, spoke at a time of unprecedented growth in Oakland. The pace of downtown development is at an all-time high. Meanwhile, the Port's Aviation and Maritime businesses are at, or near record levels of business volume. Mr. Wan said there's pressure as residential and commercial construction draws ever nearer to the Port.
"Let's all declare and explain the need for an industrial sanctuary policy and explore the ways that such a policy will be compatible with local and regional planning efforts," Mr. Wan implored the audience. "Let your customers and partners, your neighbors and your community know that the Port is for everyone and here to stay for the benefit of all."
Mr. Wan said nearly 13.5 million passengers flew in and out of the Port's Oakland International Airport last year. Its seaport handled the equivalent of 2.5 million 20-foot cargo containers. More than 84,000 depended on the Port for their livelihoods. "If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Port of Oakland probably touches your life on a frequency and in ways that would surprise you," he said.
The Executive Director said the Port and its governing Board would develop a master plan over the next year. He said it would address the Port's two primary assets: platform and ecosystem.
"The platform is the stage on which tenants, operators and workers conduct their business," Mr. Wan explained. "The Port needs to provide a platform that is nimble and versatile in that it cuts across organizational structures, silos and policies and adapts to the changing technologies and needs of our users and customers," he said
As for the ecosystem, he said it includes the neighbors, streets and infrastructure surrounding the Port. According to the Executive Director, an industrial sanctuary would be key to preserving its ecosystem.
"It is my contention that in the current environment where housing is a critical need, there needs also be a conscientious effort to provide for a sanctuary for industry and its ancillary transportation needs," said Mr. Wan. "By improving the Port platform to support our business and industry and by better integrating the Port to the ecosystem around us, we will solidify the foundation of a healthy and vibrant Port for decades to come."