Jittery California

Jul 26, 2012, 9:32PM EST
Politicians join in to "Beat the Canal"

California is taking the not entirely highly original route of offering tax credits to exporters as the state casts around for ways to keep cargo trundling through its ports after the Panama Canal widening. The usually bickering politicians in the state capital Sacramento seem to be uniting, and are pressing ahead with what is officially termed Assembly Bill, 2656.

The exact wording of the bill is “The bill would authorize $500 million in tax credit certificates to be awarded … for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2013, and before January 1, 2018 … in an aggregate amount not to exceed $250,000 for a taxable year against the taxes imposed by those laws if a taxpayer receives a tax credit certificate.” Thus far it’s still in the wrangling stage, having to go through the meat grinder of special committees and suchlike before becoming law.

The measure is the most tangible sign of the unease along the West Coast of the competition from other ports once the canal starts its new life (now said to be delayed for six months because the locks will take longer than expected).

Los Angeles City Council; recently discussed the Canal Effect, with port bosses and business leaders venting forth.

Port chief executive Geraldine Knatz (PhD) summed up the mood by endorsing the slogan “Beat the Canal!”

LA chamber of commerce CEO Gary Toebben hit out at the, predictably, slow procedure for vetting new port projects and said a sepasrate system should be set up to deal with the port  (which is a division of the council; unlike Long Beach, which can make its own decisions). A trucker leader reckoned that everyone is looking at the wrong target – with highway congestion making many shipping lines and customers use other ports. “Widen the freeways and it will be job done”, was the theme of his argument.

After loads more waffle, and council members lauding each other, the council decided to change its building regulations (which treat the port as just another part of the city) to separate the port from all other activities and allow faster action on new projects.

Ohh, and the city will hold a special Port Day each year to tell its residents what’s happening. Wow!


Filed under: Angeles, Los, Panama
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