Oakland Port Services, a locally owned small business that provides unique services for independent truck drivers at the Port of Oakland, has received an eviction notice after negotiations for relocation on port land fell through.
The business is the only company at the Port of Oakland that provides a 24-hour mini-mart, truck scales as well as restroom, shower and laundry facilities for truckers and longshoremen who often have to work late or at odd hours.
According to Oakland Port Services’ CEO Bill Aboudi, the company’s services prevent truck traffic from getting congested at the port and keep the big trucks from having to venture into the West Oakland community, both of which would drastically increase pollution for adjacent neighborhoods.
Community members are determined to defend the business, which they see as an important resource in their efforts to combat air pollution and traffic congestion in West Oakland.
“The provision of not only parking, but truck scales, food service and vehicle maintenance supplies…keeps scores of trucks out of the neighborhood every day,” wrote Brian Beveridge, co-director of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, in an email to the port.
“That is scores of respiratory health impacts and potential incidents between private automobiles and pedestrians that are avoided by assuring truckers have the goods and services they need, where they need them,” Beveridge said.
At present, Aboudi’s business is a month-to-month tenant of the Port of Oakland and was asked to vacate the property by the end of June, along with over a dozen other small businesses, to make way for the development of a seaport logistics complex.
He and several other businesses were offered the possibility of relocating on port property.
Because the projected cost of moving the company’s facilities and two truck scales will be around $300,000, Aboudi had asked if his tenancy could be extended to a location that allowed for a longer term, rather than continuing on an uncertain month-to-month agreement.
Aboudi and the Port of Oakland entered into negotiations for relocation. But after he had made his request for a longerterm tenancy known, the port closed negotiations, making it seem as though he had rejected the port’s only offer, Aboudi said.
According to Mike Zampa, communications director at the Port of Oakland, the port had found a site for Oakland Port Services but Aboudi had rejected the only possible offer, a month-to-month lease.
“We need the flexibility of short term leases so that when the time is right we can execute future planned developments,” Zampa told the Post.
“The Port of Oakland worked with the tenant with relocation and we identified a potential site, but it was not taken,” he said.
The Post has received copies of email correspondence between the Port of Oakland and Aboudi that shows on June 16 of this year, he sent an email to the port saying that the offered location option “on a month-to-month basis is not an option” because it incurs $300,000 move costs that “we are not able to recover with a short term lease.”
However, negotiations for another possible site continued for nearly a month until the port abruptly terminated the offer and decided to evict the business.
“Oakland Port Services now appears to have renewed interest in the…location. However, at this juncture, the Port will not entertain any further discussions with the (company) regarding its moving to another port location,” wrote John Driscoll, director of Maritime at the Port of Oakland, in an email dated July 13.
Regardless of what was said by the two sides in the dispute, community members want the port to work out a deal with Oakland Port Services because the company “provides a critical service to the local trucking community and continues to provide value to the West Oakland community in the form of reduced impacts from port related trucking,” according to West Oakland environmentalist Beveridge in his email to the port.
In addition, according to Aboudi and Beveridge, the port’s development plans for the current location have not yet entered the design phase and more time could be given before evicting the company, allowing the company to find a suitable location for the minimart, facilities and truck scales.
“They’ve got us (small businesses) on month-to-month leases because of their development plans. But where are small businesses planned into their long term plans?” asked Aboudi.
“They say they value what we do and use us as much as possible when they need to, but we’re never really incorporated into their longer term next steps,” he said.