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West Sacramento News-Ledger

Port Commission Looks Forward

May 14, 2024 04:27PM ● By Angela Underwood

Rice gets loaded on a ship at the West Sacramento Port at the North Terminal, where the primary export is shipped off. Photo courtesy of the City of West Sacramento

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Only some cities can boast a deep-water dock like the Port of West Sacramento.

General Manager Rick Toft shared the five-member Port Commission news after the monthly meeting on May 1, beginning with the landlord operating model implemented in 2013 to increase funding at the city dock.

Before the landlord model, the Port of West Sacramento experienced a long-standing structural operating deficit that needed to be more sustainable, according to Toft.

“The landlord operating model stabilized the financial viability of the port by shifting most of the Maritime Terminal’s operating expenses to the Terminal Operator and generating additional non-maritime revenues from previously unproductive vacant sites,” Toft said.

Since opening in 1963, the Port of West Sacramento has narrowed down two primary products for export and import. Today, the deep-water dock’s main export is rice and the top import is cement at the North Terminal on Industrial Boulevard. According to Toft, the two products “will continue to be the port’s primary cargos for the foreseeable future.”

“The Terminal Operator is always looking for new cargo opportunities,” Toft added.

Since “many ports cannot survive solely on maritime revenues, which are notoriously unpredictable and subject to economic factors outside of a Port Authority’s control,” the general manager said that there are several non-maritime leases at the Port of West Sacramento, which also owns more than 600 acres of vacant property.

“The Port of West Sacramento’s largest tracts of vacant land are not suitable for maritime development but are valuable sites for mixed-use development in accordance with West Sacramento’s General Plan,” Toft said.

Port revenue also comes from recreational opportunities, including rowing, sailing and outboarding. Toft said the dock waters offer unique recreational opportunities for West Sacramento residents and the broader region, including Sacramento, Davis, Woodland and Elk Grove.

“When the city took control of the port in 2006, the Port Commission immediately prioritized enhanced public access to port waters via the barge canal public-access area on Jefferson Boulevard, which includes a walk-in boat ramp and a bike and pedestrian trail,” Toft said.

Aside from a few smaller projects, including additional LED lighting upgrades, improvements to the Fire Training Tower and a new restroom facility for the recreational boat clubs, according to the general manager, the city dock has bigger goals. The first is developing a modernization plan as a joint venture project with the Terminal Operator, Toft said, adding the Port Commission recently extended the Terminal Operator lease through June 30, 2028.

The next goal is to plan additional electrification projects at the Maritime Terminal.

“This is to continue the transition away from diesel-powered cargo handling equipment, thereby reducing emissions that impact the community,” Toft said.

Lastly, the Port Commission wants to advance a significant development project on the port’s Seaway property.

“All of these projects are multi-year efforts, which are currently in their early stages,” Toft said.

Officials will continue to discuss all plans at the next Port Commission meeting at 5:15 p.m. June 5, 1110 W. Capitol Ave., second floor, West Sacramento. 

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