Port of Los Angeles says it may delay owner-operator ban

| 9/7/2010

The Port of Los Angeles may have won a round in court last month for its Clean Truck Program, but that doesn’t mean it will automatically ban owner-operators from entering the port.

Geraldine Knatz, the port’s executive director, issued a memo last week saying enforcement of some portions of the program can’t be enforced immediately, adding that port may delay enforcement of its employee driver requirement and other CTP pieces.

“I will not take action to enforce the previously enjoined provisions of the Concession Agreement before the next meeting of the Board of Harbor Commissioners,” Knatz wrote. “This will give staff the opportunity to recommend next steps, which may include reasonable extensions of time for compliance.”

The Los Angeles Harbor Commission is scheduled to meet Sept. 27, port spokesman Phillip Sanfield told Land Line Now on Tuesday.

In 2008, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach each approved a Clean Truck Program that banned pre-1989 trucks from entering their ports in 2009. In January 2010, trucks with 1993 model year engines and older were banned. By 2012, only trucks meeting 2007 model year diesel engine emissions standards will be allowed at the ports.

The Port of Los Angeles’ program required companies wanting to work at the ports to employ their drivers, and included expensive taxi-style “concessionaire” fees, prompting a July 2008 lawsuit to overturn several portions of the program. The lawsuit has bounced between U.S. District Court in Los Angeles and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

On Aug. 26, U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder ruled in favor of the port, including the Clean Truck Program’s employee-driver provision, off-site parking and other requirements on the basis that the Port is acting as a market participant and, as such, is not subject to the laws that pre-empt states or municipalities from regulating trucking activities.

While the Port of Los Angeles has sought to regulate drayage drivers, it hasn’t regulated long-haul trucking, and the port worked with OOIDA to create a day pass system that allows trucks engaged in long-haul to bypass the system.

OOIDA has objected to expensive fees for port access and has pointed out underlying problems at ports that go beyond the scope of the Clean Truck Program, including lease purchasing and a lack of enforcement of federal rules that protect owner-operators from bad leases and unfair equipment maintenance arrangements.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer