Ports are a critical gateway to the world and a powerful driver for local and regional economic development, job growth, and retention. It is imperative that ports run efficiently and navigate the myriad of laws and regulations that impact them. As public agencies that both serve and operate side-by-side with the private sector, ports are faced with an atypical level of oversight and competition.
Best Best & Krieger LLP’s (BBK) attorneys and advocates who serve port clients hail from a variety of practices and experiences that help ports thrive not only for commerce but also as responsible stewards of the environment and the communities they serve. Our comprehensive services to port clients includes:
- Identifying, securing, and implementing funding sources through Advocacy, Public Finance, and Public-Private Partnerships
- Public Contracts & Construction
- Environmental issues, including CEQA, California Coastal Act, Endangered Species Act compliance, and Water Law
- Real Estate, Land Use, and Eminent Domain
- General & Special Counsel
- Labor & Employment
Transportation and Infrastructure Projects
With so much of a port’s operations reliant on transportation, we help find creative and collaborative solutions that promote efficient cargo movement. BBK attorneys are experienced in public-private partnerships, utilization of alternative construction delivery methods, and funding through bond and tax measures and federal programs such as the Army Corps of Engineers and Department of Transportation. Our experience includes channel and harbor deepening and maintenance, construction of rail projects, and modernization and maintenance of existing rail systems and multi-modal projects, as well as the implementation of advanced funding mechanisms such as New Markets Tax Credits.
BBK’s team has handled a number of energy matters for ports, including strategic planning, electrification of terminal operations, cold-ironing, interconnection agreements, utility disputes, capacity charges, access to port properties, and other matters.
Environmental and Water
Supporting sustainable, efficient, and growing facilities that minimize disruption to neighboring communities, the environment, ecosystems and endangered species is a delicate balance for any port. BBK’s collaborative approach and commitment to our clients’ visions keeps projects on track for success. Our team includes attorneys and advocates experienced in all aspects of environmental and water review, permitting and compliance issues, including the NEPA and CEQA processes, Clean Water Act permits and certifications, the California Coastal Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
Maritime and Transportation Law
Ports and their clients must navigate a unique array of agencies and authorities that govern homeland security, safety, transportation, and commerce. Our team brings experience with the Federal Maritime Commission, Transportation Department, other agencies, and authorities and regulations that impact the maritime industry.
Our port service does not stop at the end of the shipping line. We also help port clients develop their land into projects that serve the communities in which they operate. For instance, we represented the Port of San Diego in the $1.1 billion Chula Vista Bayfront hotel and convention center deal based on a public-private partnership.
Public Agency Law
One of the hallmarks of BBK is our ability to offer public agency clients a full range of services. Our Municipal Law attorneys are accustomed to, and adept at, advising a variety of agencies on the unique needs and challenges they face as public agencies. We help these clients successfully maneuver through legal complexities and governmental directives, enabling them to focus on providing superior service to their stakeholders. This includes guidance on everything from open meeting laws and Public Records Act requests to disaster and resilience planning and response to infrastructure and transportation projects.
- For the Port of Long Beach, obtained Southern California Edison's acquiescence to an agreement to provide the POLB with new electric distribution facilities at no charge to the Port and discounted rates for 25 years for electric service. POLB has computed the discount obtained as worth $350 million.
- For POLB, obtained a CPUC order allocating $50 million in funding over five years from electricity rates to be reserved for ports and warehouses in SCE’s service territory.
- Helped the Port of Stockton develop a strategic energy plan to reduce its high energy bills. Based on advice from counsel, POS eliminated Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) as the power supplier on a major portion of its properties, obtained from the U.S. Navy under the base-closing program. The plan was implemented over PG&E opposition, in part by utilizing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, but without resorting to administrative or civil litigation. Within three months of the commencement of the implementation stage, the pertinent portion of POS was independent of PG&E retail service, had an executed Interconnection Agreement with PG&E, and executed Power Purchase Agreement with a third-party power supplier and was receiving lower-cost power. The speed of this transformation from captive PG&E customer to the independent electric system was, and remains, unprecedented. In addition, through a two-stage strategy, POS was freed from exit fees, which are ordinarily levied on departing PG&E customers.
- For POS, confronted a PG&E effort to impede the Port’s electricity enterprise. After pointed discussions, PG&E abandoned its attempt.
- Represented the San Diego Unified Port District in a Clean Water Act citizen suit action involving the Port’s three marine terminals. After two years of intense negotiations, the Port successfully settled the claims through a collaborative pre-litigation settlement agreement rather than a binding and court-enforced consent decree. Defense of the allegations involved multiple issues, including detailed coverage questions under the Industrial General Stormwater Permit, the application of numeric effluent limits, overlap with the Municipal Stormwater Permit, and other complex legal and factual questions. Resolution of the issues required careful coordination with maritime tenants, port officials from multiple departments, the plaintiffs, and the Regional Water Quality Control Board. It required sensitivity to the unique activities, constraints, and culture of the maritime industry. As a result of the negotiations, the Port was able to terminate existing coverage under the Industrial General Stormwater Permit and focus its water quality program at the terminals on an approach tailored to the Municipal Stormwater Permit.
- In Santa Barbara Channelkeeper v. City of San Buenaventura, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper sued the City of San Buenaventura for alleged harm to endangered steelhead caused by the City’s use of Ventura River water. BBK represented the City in its successful appeal, upholding its right to name other water users who affect flows in the Ventura River.