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CEO Jonathan Williams: Port of LA Harbor Commission Update

March 15, 2024


This morning the Port of Los Angeles Harbor Commission unanimously approved to extend our lease until 2057. The next and final step is for the LA City Council to approve it. This approval is the last hurdle to clear before we can begin design and construction of the freedom of the seas park and pavilion.

Concurrently we are presenting our concept for an arrival connectivity experience for the LA Waterfront to hopefully gain community support and prioritization of Public Access Investment (PAIP) funds. Your letters are key to communicate this importance. Thankfully, we are now able to extend our deadline until April 1, 2024. We plan to deliver the large binder of letters to the Councilmember and Port in early April to highlight your support, in addition to letters from organizations in San Pedro.

Overall, we are grateful for the outpouring of community support for the Battleship IOWA; we are proud to call San Pedro home. Thank you to Elise Swanson, CEO of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce and Alan Johnson from West Harbor and Jerico Development for speaking today in support. Thank you to the Port of Los Angeles for believing in the waterfront and supporting our efforts throughout the years. Thank you to our crew, board, and supporters for always being there when we need you!

I am excited to see what the future holds, as the past 12 years have been incredible.

Dream big, take smart risks, and never give up! We all have the choice to succeed if we believe.


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My comments at the March 15, 2024 Harbor Commission Meeting:

In less than 12-years, I am proud to say that our efforts have helped to reinvigorate the LA waterfront and San Pedro.

As a model partner for the city and port of Los Angeles, we continue to carry the message of freedom of the seas and the port throughout the nation. We have educated millions of students and adults, supported hundreds of thousands veterans, improved the quality of life for thousands of residents, and led efforts to create a more resilient community. In 2023 alone, we supported more than 280 full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs with approximately $13.8m in economic activity and $637k in local tax revenue. We are pioneering the role that a museum fills in supporting its community and are considered by many as the future of museums.

Our continued investment in promoting the waterfront as a tourism destination has been unmatched by any other private partner since our arrival and has led us to be recognized as the #4 attraction in Los Angeles, rivaled only by Universal Studios, Getty, and Griffith Park.

When we arrived, the LA Waterfront was unknown, and San Pedro was commonly referred to negatively. Partnerships to promote or plan events were a rare occurrence with the Port bearing the responsibility of almost every event or activity. Unique partnerships like LA Fleet Week didn’t exist, nor did a rent paying non-profit like us. People willing to lead by example and take calculated risks were a rare occurrence.

To date, I suspect that we are the commercial waterfront’s most transformational asset, not only in visibility but in promotion expenditure and return on investment. As a lifetime entrepreneur, I can state with confidence that this was one of the most difficult challenges I have been involved in.

Our next evolution will be the greatest, as we become the nation’s museum of the Surface Navy, an innovative complex educating visitors on freedom of the seas – a vital component of the supply chain and Port of Los Angeles. The complex includes a community multi-use building, public access park, and an onboard museum – all of which raise ours and LA Waterfront’s visibility to a national level. The amendment in front of you makes it possible for us to accomplish this, as it is essential to close the final open loop in securing $6.7m from the State of CA, made possible by Assemblymember Gipson.

12-years ago when we arrived, it was doubtful we would succeed. Today, we are considered to be the first pearl in the string of pearls leading to the waterfront we know today and into the future.

But we must not stop here. A world-class waterfront takes vision and risk. A vision in which the LA Waterfront is ranked in the top 5 of the nation, a waterfront that the community can be proud of, and one that appropriately resembles the gateway to America’s port.

We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Port and are appreciative for your consideration of today’s amendment.


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NOTE: If you prefer not to donate electronically, please mail your check to:
Attention: Development Department, 250 S. Harbor Blvd., San Pedro, CA 90731

Thank you to our 2022 donors for their generosity and support. Want to know how your donations are making a difference? Check out our ANNUAL REPORT here.

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