The Port of Long Beach could name its educational center after former Congressman Alan Lowenthal

A committee will decide whether a $19 million center inside the port headquarters Downtown will be named after Lowenthal, who advocated for ports and environmental policy.

The Port of Long Beach could name its educational center after former Congressman Alan Lowenthal
The Port of Long Beach headquarters in Downtown Long Beach. Photo by Jason Ruiz

A room on the third floor of the Port of Long Beach headquarters could be named after former Congressman Alan Lowenthal after the City Council asked the issue to be passed down to one of its committees for consideration Tuesday night.

The council’s Government, Operations and Efficiency Committee will consider changing the name of the port building’s third floor — which is dedicated to community engagement and educational exhibits about the port — after Lowenthal.

If the committee and the council approve the name change later this year, the third-floor center could become the Congressman Alan Lowenthal Global Trade and Education Center.

Lowenthal started his political career as a Long Beach City Council member in the 1990s after helping to successfully campaign for the creation of a Citizens Police Complaint Commission. He served on the council until 1998 when he was elected to the California State Assembly before he was elected to the California Senate in 2004.

In 2012, Lowenthal was elected to Congress as one of the city’s representatives before announcing he wouldn’t seek a new term in Dec. 2021.

Lowenthal made a name for himself as an environmental advocate during his tenure on the City Council. In the 1990s, he fought to reduce the amount of black soot that was emanating from uncovered petroleum coke piles in the Port of Long Beach.

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During his time in the Senate, Lowenthal backed laws aimed at reducing emissions at the port by limiting idle times for trucks. Another law offered incentives for leasing electric vehicles.

While in Congress, Lowenthal chaired the Ports, Opportunity, Renewal, Trade and Security (PORTS) caucus and advocated for federal funding for the nation’s ports.

In a letter to the council, Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero called Lowenthal a “great champion” for the city and the port who left behind “a legacy of environmental progress.”

Cordero announced the new $19 million educational center during the annual State of the Port address in January as well as the port’s intention to name it after Lowenthal. The center is expected to include an LED video wall showing port operations as well as a 3-D map of the port and a timeline of events since the port opened in 1911.

A city policy stipulates that city-owned land, buildings or facilities “will not normally be named after living persons” unless the City Council deems that their contributions warrant a deviation from the policy.

In recent years the council has named a few facilities after living people.

The council voted to rename the Terrace Theater at the Long Beach Convention Center after former Mayor Beverly O’Neill; a new sports complex at Chittick Field in Central Long Beach after former Councilmember Dee Andrews and a community center after Doris Topsy-Elvord, the first Black woman to be elected to the council.

The issue is expected to be back before the City Council in 30 days and its vote on whether to name the center after Lowenthal would be final, according to a city memo.