California ports shortchanged in latest round of port security funding

Published 26 September 2006

Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles face a drastic cut, while Oakland and San Francisco are frozen out alltogether; state officials react angrily and question DHS’s allocation process; California sees a history of ill-treatment on security spending issues

Last week’s decision by DHS to boost security spending fourfold at New York and New Jersey’s ports may have come at the expense of others. Much to the dismay of local officials, the twin-port complex of Los Angeles and Long Beach will together get about $12 million in 2006 for security, compared to about $24 million in 2005, and the port of Oakland, California’s secod largest, will get nothing at all. In 2005 Oakland received $2.9 million and this year had requested a total of $6 million. It had intended to use the money to implement video surveillance technology that can send alerts to security officers when something is amiss, and conduct background checks of workers, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The ports of San Francisco and Stockton were similarly shortchanged.

California officials reacted as angrily as one would expect. “This grant award decision is beyond outrageous, it is dangerous,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was likewise displeased. “Congress must pass legislation this year that will require the Department of Homeland Security to allocate funds based on risk and need. Almost half of all the nation’s goods arriving by sea go through California’s ports. Clearly, the current allocation of grant funds does not address our state’s need,” said Schwarzenegger.

This is unfortunately not a new story for local planners. According to the Chronicle, “Homeland Security grants have been a sore topic in the Bay Area and the state. Earlier this year, the Bay Area received $28.3 million from a national pool of more than $700 million intended to help urban areas prepare for attacks and other disasters. Last year, the region was allocated nearly $5 million more under the same grant, and it was given nearly $16 million more in 2004.” All told, DHS this year distributed $168 million for port security, all of which is intended to be used to guard against land and sea attacks, but not for cargo screening

-read more in Demian Bulwa’s San Francisco Chronicle report