A historic agreement between the Port of Los Angeles and various stakeholders has resulted in the founding of a new nonprofit organization, the Harbor Community Benefit Foundation. HCBF’s mission is “to carry out mitigation and other public benefit projects that assess, protect, and improve health, quality of life, and the natural environment, with a focus on the near-port communities of San Pedro and Wilmington, California.” The Port, a major hub of international commerce for the entire western United States, has disproportionately impacted these near-port communities with pollution and other impacts associated with operations and goods movement. The Port has been improving its environmental record as it acknowledges these impacts, and the nonprofit’s focus on public benefits to these communities reflects a serious commitment to address these problems. I’m fortunate to be the HCBF’s first board Chair.
The HCBF will be administering a fund, the Port Community Mitigation Trust Fund, to implement and fund community benefits projects; the trust fund is expected to reach the tens of millions of dollars, and the first grant, of $6 million to fund an air filtration project in San Pedro and Wilmington schools, has already been authorized. The genesis of the fund and the nonprofit was a 2008 agreement that resulted in the settlement of a lawsuit against the Port, called the TraPac settlement. The nonprofit also will likely pursue other funding, apart from the trust fund, to support its projects.
I’m excited about the opportunity to move forward on efforts to improve health and quality of life in these near-port communities. My fellow board members and I are anticipating that the HCBF will improve health and quality of life significantly in our near-Port communities and serve as a model for other community-benefits nonprofits.