A New Day at the Port of Oakland

Chris Lytle, new executive director at the Port of OaklandChris Lytle

The Port of Oakland faces a number of challenges, some self-inflicted due to several scandals last year involving port management, but a growing sense of optimism is surfacing in the trade community about the port.  

Much of that surrounds the recent hiring of Chris Lytle as executive director. Lytle is widely respected, well-liked and has a fundamental understanding of international trade coupled with numerous contacts and extensive relationships throughout the trade community.

But in addition to the hiring of Chris Lytle, there is a change occurring at the Oakland Port Commission: It’s evolving and becoming more customer-focused. With several new appointments to the port commission in 2012, and another appointee joining the in July, the commission is clearly trying to strengthen the port's relationship with its customers — with the hiring of Lytle as the latest but most visible step.  

The commission also held off adopting the California Association of Port Authorities’ proposal for an annual general rate increase, an action that port tenants and customers applauded while positioning Oakland favorably compared to competing ports.  

At the same time, the political theatrics that have publicly surfaced at other ports is largely absent from the Oakland Commission. Instead, the Oakland Port Commission seems to be moving forward quietly and deliberatively.
Oakland faces challenges, but the Oakland Port Commission is making an effort to address many of these challenges head-on.

John McLaurin is president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association. Contact him at jmclaurin@pmsaship.com.


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