Business & Economy

The Port of LA adopts policy to protect historical buildings and sites

The Japanese-American memorial on Terminal Island.
The Japanese-American memorial on Terminal Island.
Kevin Ferguson/KPCC

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Like other ports around the U.S., the Port of Los Angeles is trying to modernize to compete in the changing global shipping market.   At the same time,  the port recently adopted a new policy to protect historic buildings and sites within its area. 

Under the new policy, the port has made it a priority to preserve buildings and sites that are at least 50 years old.  In a statement, the port said historical resources that are less than 50 years old could also come under review. 

"This policy provides a comprehensive and proactive framework for the ongoing identification of historical resources and consideration for their preservation and reuse,"  Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Geraldine Knatz said in the statement.   "It assures that these resources are identified early in the planning process for proposed projects or potential leasing of vacant properties."

  The Los Angeles Conservancy helped the port develop the new policy.  Conservancy Advocacy Director Adrian Fine said the port’s Terminal Island was once home to a Japanese-American village, a shipyard that played a key role in both world wars, and the Starkist and Chicken of the Sea canneries that launched the canned tuna industry in the U.S.

The historic sites at the port "could really benefit" from the new policy, said Fine, who expressed the hope that port officials will think " a little more creatively about how could we reuse those buildings without calling for their demolition."  

 The Port of Los Angeles could be the first port to establish a preservation policy.  Officials said while drafting it,  they looked to other ports for a model, but couldn't find one.  

Last year the National Trust for Historic Preservation included Terminal Island on its list of the eleven most endangered historic landmarks in the country.

Port of L.A.'s Built Environment Historic, Architectural and Cultural Resource Policy