Scott Peters took over the chairmanship of the Board of Port Commissioners on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011, by declaring 2011 as the “year of innovation” at the Port of San Diego.
In a speech following his swearing-in as Commission chairman, Peters said this year would be a time of major challenges and opportunities, job creation and improvement of public spaces along the shores of San Diego Bay.
“I am absolutely confident that our Commissioners, our member cities, our excellent port staff and our community partners will ensure that 2011 is a year of investment, job creation, waterfront enhancement and environmental stewardship that will be a credit to our entire region,” Peters told more than 160 people after taking the oath of office.
Peters, who is one of three Commissioners representing the City of San Diego, was sworn in during the Board’s annual organizational luncheon, held this year at the new Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier, which serves both as an auxiliary cruise ship terminal and event center.
In addition, Commissioner Stephen Padilla, who represents the City of Chula Vista, was sworn in as Vice Chairman, and Commissioner Lou Smith, who represents the City of Coronado, was sworn in as Secretary.
Two new Commissioners also were sworn in -- Dan Malcolm, who represents the City of Imperial Beach, and Bob Nelson, who was named by the City Council on Monday to represent the City of San Diego. Malcolm is President and CEO of Malcolm Properties. Nelson is chairman of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation.
Outgoing Commissioners Michael Bixler of Imperial Beach, who served more than eight years on the Board, and Stephen Cushman of San Diego, who served 12 years, were recognized by Valderrama for their years of service. Port employees, Gabby Rubio and Annette Walton, both customer services assistants and the first people visitors see when they come to the Port of San Diego headquarters, received the Chairman’s Cup Award.
San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox presented a proclamation to the outgoing Chairman, declaring Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011, as Robert “Dukie” Valderrama Day in the county.
In his remarks, Peters said accomplishments in 2010 under Valderrama’s leadership included a land exchange that sets the stage for the redevelopment of 550 along Chula Vista’s waterfront, the decommissioning of the South Bay Power Plant in Chula Vista and the start of the San Diego Convention Center expansion.
In addition, he cited the opening of the Port Pavilion and environmental initiatives including the installation of a shore power system that enables cruise ships to plug into shore-side electrical power and the effort to reduce copper pollution in San Diego Bay and the marinas.
Additionally, Peters said the Port took steps to address the impact of the marine terminals in neighborhoods in San Diego and National City by setting aside $500,000 and designating a set percent of revenue from marine terminal operations to address the impacts.
Before delivering his formal remarks, Peters recognized Valderrama, presenting him with a crystal gavel and a photo book chronicling the past year. Peters said Valderrama became chairman at a challenging time, when the Port was struggling with the down economy, working to improve relations with the tenants and member city governments, dealing with employee work furloughs and the loss of the Port CEO and the appointment of a new one.
“There were many other challenges, but you took them all in stride,” Peters said.
Later in his address, Peters once again cited Valderrama’s leadership and added: “He is one of the most caring men I think I have met in public life.”
The new Chairman also was complimentary of the Port’s new President and CEO, Wayne Darbeau.
“Wayne hit the ground running, proposing an insightful way to cut overhead and management to increase performance,” he said. “He quickly earned the unanimous support of the Port tenants and shortly thereafter, the unanimous support of the Port Commissioners.”
Looking ahead, Peters said that given the challenges faced by government agencies and the weak economy, the Port will be unable to conduct business as it has in the past.
“We are not able to write big checks to fund big projects in cash,” he said. “We can’t count on large grants from the state or federal government, because they are in worse shape than us.”
Peters said the Port and its partners must find new ways to conduct business.
“Here at the Port, with our staff, in a community context of ideas and creativity, it’s only natural for us to find the new way,” Peters said. “So if I have to pick a theme for this year, and I have been instructed to do so, I want 2011 to be a year of innovation.”
Peters said that one priority this year will be facilitating the process for the removal of the South Bay Power Plant. He said he, along with Port staff and Commissioner Padilla, will work to win California Coastal Commission approval of the Port Master Plan Amendment for the Chula Vista bay front development. And, he said, he is looking forward to acting on the environmental impact report on the proposed Convention Center expansion and hotel project.
He also vowed to pursue the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan, a joint project with the Port, City of San Diego and Centre City Development Corporation to transform San Diego’s downtown waterfront.
“We will invigorate and energize our waterfront, so that our region’s residents will think that this is the place to be,” Peters said. “And when visitors from around the world mention San Diego’s waterfront in the same breath as Vancouver’s Granville Island, Sydney or even San Francisco or Seattle, it translates directly into money in the Port’s pockets.”