The end of airport-adjacent shipping container storage still weeks away

While hundreds of shipping containers remain at the former Boeing C-17 site along Cherry Avenue, temporary leaseholder ICM Companies has secured new temporary storage locations and has begun phasing out the controversial Long Beach operation.

A drayage provider with operations at the Port of Long Beach, ICM has procured two new sites at an additional cost of nearly $2 million, according to spokesperson Alex Cherin.

Officials initially said the containers, and the truck traffic they bring, would be gone by Nov. 30.

“While I am disappointed in the length of time it’s taking to get containers out of our neighborhoods, I am pleased that our persistence resulted in locating suitable sites for this type of activity,” 7th District Councilman Roberto Uranga said in an email.

Located at the Fenix Marine Services terminal at the Port of Los Angeles and in the Inland Empire, the two new storage locations have already begun receiving inbound containers as well as existing containers from the former Boeing site. But staffing shortages at the ports have made moving containers to the new site a sluggish endeavor.

“The San Pedro Bay ports complex has been receiving an unusually high number of container ship calls,” Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said. “Segments of the supply chain are facing staffing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Truck drivers and truck chassis are in short supply, Long Beach Development Services Director Oscar Orci added. But city staff has set a target of mid-December to have all remaining containers relocated, Orci said.

ICM first began the search for additional container storage in July, when port container traffic saw a drastic increase from previous months—setting and then breaking records multiple times. The company linked up with Goodman, whose property is zoned for industrial use, and brought the six-month temporary lease agreement to the city for approval.

Because it is private property and the temporary use fell under the appropriate zoning, city staff was not required to seek city council approval or to seek community input.

But the usage proposed to the city is not what ultimately came to pass, Orci said. Originally, the agreement was described strictly as container storage. However, the operation was a far more active part of the supply chain, requiring continuous truck trips day and night.

“Everybody is frustrated, including staff,” Orci said. “We were trying to do a good thing to help out the port. [But this] is not what we had been agreeable to.”

Eventually, the city limited operating hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. but it was not enough to quell the irritation of nearby residents and their city council representatives.

The site is located in the 5th District on the border of the 7th to the west. Councilmembers Stacy Mungo of the 5th and Uranga both denounced the operation, citing the negative impacts on their communities, including air and noise pollution, and traffic congestion.

In mid-October, Mungo said she wanted the operation moved immediately. At the time, City Manager Tom Modica guaranteed the transition would be completed by the end of November, if not sooner.

Mungo did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The future of the former Boeing site is in the hands of city staff, which is actively working on the Globemaster Corridor Specific Plan. The effort will ultimately inform Goodman’s and other redevelopment along Cherry Avenue north of the 405 Freeway.

“I look forward to continuing our relationship with Goodman to develop the site to bring community benefits to the area,” Uranga said, “and enhance the economic growth of our city.”

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Brandon Richardson is a business reporter, covering everything from real estate and healthcare to the airport and port to city hall and the economy. He is a Long Beach native who has been with the Business Journal since graduating from Long Beach City College in spring 2016 with an associate’s degree in journalism. He is an avid record collector and concert goer.