Port of Oakland Searches for New Chief

Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle retired in July after 53 years in trade and transportation, although he has agreed to remain as a consultant to the port through the end of 2019.


Published: August, 2019

Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle retired in July after 53 years in trade and transportation, although he has agreed to remain as a consultant to the port through the end of 2019.

“Chris Lytle is one of the best-known and most respected executives in the industry and it has been our good fortune to have him as our leader,” Board of Port Commissioners President Ces Butner said in a statement. “Our priority now is finding an able successor.”

As we reported six years ago, Lytle was lured from his job at the Port of Long Beach to take a leadership role in Oakland.  At the time, the port was still reeling from a financial scandal that resulted in the resignation of former chief Omar Benjamin and his maritime director, James Kwon.

Since then, Lytle has guided the port through an era of unprecedented growth that includes:

  • All-time high containerized cargo volume in each of the past two years at the seaport;

  • Record operating revenue for three straight years;

  • Transformation of former Oakland Army Base property to a Seaport Logistics Complex;

  • Two long-range planning initiatives that set the port on a course to the future;

  • Development of Cool Port Oakland, a 280,000-square-foot refrigerated cargo distribution center; and 

  • Enhanced bulk shipping capacity to secure its position as a major ag export gateway.

Furthermore, Lytle led development of a five-year strategic plan for the port called “Growth with Care,” which commits Oakland to business expansion that benefits neighboring communities. Under his authority, the port also adopted a long-term air quality plan, the objective of which is seeking a path to zero-emissions seaport operations.

Port Attorney Danny Wan has become acting executive director pending a search for Lytle’s successor. Lytle will also assist the port in its search for a new executive director. He also plans to facilitate meetings with customers and the acting executive director, as well as meet overseas with key clients.

Among the challenges facing the new director will be the daunting prospect of ceding away valuable terminal property for the development of a major league baseball stadium—a project opposed by nearly all seaport stakeholders. 

Finally, the Containerization and Intermodal Institute announced it would give Lytle its Lifetime Achievement Award this fall.  


Port of Oakland Approves Final Permit for Seaport Logistics Complex


Port of Oakland Commissioners have approved the final permit associated with one of the most anticipated industrial developments in port history. They voted last month to approve a vertical permit—industry vernacular for a building construction permit—at a long-awaited Seaport Logistics Complex.

The developer, CenterPoint Properties, began preparation and ground stabilization work on its 27-acre site over the last nine months and is actively engaged in construction on the 460,000 square-foot facility, with completion expected mid-2020. The Seaport Logistics Complex is in the heart of the port, just off Maritime Street, near Oakland’s Outer Harbor. It’s being developed right next to the port’s three-year-old, $100 million rail yard.

“We look forward to starting vertical construction and continuing to work closely with the port to make sure this project is a point of pride for everyone involved,” said CenterPoint Chief Development Officer Michael Murphy.

CenterPoint’s $52 million project is planned to anchor a 180-acre logistics campus at the decommissioned Oakland Army Base. CenterPoint will construct, then manage the first building at the campus. The port inherited the property 15 years ago and has been planning for its use ever since. CenterPoint said it plans to lease the building to tenants engaged in cargo transportation or logistics.

“We’ve waited a long time to reach this point, but now our future is in view,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. “CenterPoint’s facility will give us logistics capability unavailable at other ports.” The port envisions a campus where containerized cargo can be quickly transferred from ships to trucks or rail. It’s expected to increase the volume of international shipments moving through Oakland.

CenterPoint said the project would also provide sustainable and economic benefits including:

  • tenant priority for local and disadvantaged hiring;

  • elimination of truck trips resulting in reduced waste and construction traffic;

  • measures that enhance future warehouse working life and safety such as enhanced indoor air quality;

  • allowance for rooftop solar panels; and

  • use of environmentally sustainable construction materials and methods.

Patrick Burnson is the executive editor of Logistics Management. www.logisticsmgmt.com