Port of San Francisco Leases Pier 80 to Pasha Automotive Services

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Port of San Francisco. Photo: the pasha group
Port of San Francisco. Photo: the pasha group

The Pasha Group, based in San Rafael, is a family-owned global logistics company that focuses on automotive and maritime trade and goods movement. The company was launched in the 1940s by George W. Pasha, Jr., when he bought a gasoline station at Van Ness Avenue and Bay Street near Fort Mason.  Over the decades the company grew and diversified, now consisting of automotive service branches, distribution centers and office locations on three continents, including ports in San Diego, Los Angeles and Oakland.

The Pasha Group’s newest location, at Pier 80, opened in August, when 500 automobiles and 30 boats were unloaded off the company’s ship, Jean Anne, before being transported to Northern California dealerships via truck.  “A presence in the Bay Area supports our overall strategy to offer our clients a network of locations to support their supply chains,” offered Maureen Pasha Larson, general manager, Pier 80 Pasha Automotive Services facility.  “Our commitment to our people and service has afforded us many expansion opportunities thanks to loyal customers who depend on us to keep their products moving to destination. Having a physical operation in San Francisco broadens our connection with a community that has given so much to our family. We are very excited to welcome new associates into the family business. As for new locations, we are always looking at strategic locations nationwide to grow our network.”  

 The inaugural shipment signaled the beginning of a 15-year lease, with two five-year extensions, between the Port of San Francisco and Pasha Automotive Services, a subsidiary of The Pasha Group. Pasha will use the 69-acre cargo terminal, which is adjacent to Cesar Chavez Street, to import and export vehicles.  The tenancy agreement was approved unanimously by the Port of San Francisco Commission, a five-member, mayor-appointed board consisting of president Willie Adams, vice president Kimberly Brandon, and commissioners Leslie Katz, Doreen Woo Ho, and Eleni Kounalakis. 

Pasha Larson foresees that Pier 80 will continue thriving as a maritime port long after her company’s lease expires. “It is critical to preserve the little maritime real estate that remains in California; so much has been developed for commercial and recreational use,” she said. “Marine terminals are economic engines that bring family sustaining wages to urban areas and promote business far from the piers where cargo is processed. Pier 80 is well positioned to handle a wide variety of commodities based on its location and available infrastructure, and will remain a valuable resource for the community for decades to come.”

As part of its lease agreement Pasha will enhance the Port’s infrastructure, and work with the Office of Economic and Workforce Development to train and hire workers from adjacent neighborhoods, including Bayview. The company expects to employ 50 longshoremen, and create an additional 150 jobs as operations intensify. CityBuild, an OEWD program, offers an 18-week pre-apprenticeship training program for 26 different trade professions, and will focus on recruiting workers from District 10 for employment with Pasha.

“After working the details for a successful business plan over the last two years with a remarkably talented cadre of maritime champions, including Monique Moyer, Elaine Forbes and Peter Dailey, we are extremely optimistic about our partnership with the Port of San Francisco,” said John Pasha, senior vice president, Pasha Automotive Services. “We are able to bring our experience and expertise in automotive services to create new jobs, serve existing and new customers, reinvigorate an underutilized asset, and bring a long-term, viable maritime use of Pier 80.”

Prior to the arrival of Pasha Automotive Services, the largely underutilized Pier 80 served as a temporary homeless shelter. The lodging, a joint initiative between the Port Commission and the Human Services Agency, provided shelter services during El Niño winter storms, though the opening also coincided with Super Bowl 50 events in the City, in which many homeless people were purportedly relocated from tourist areas by officials. The provisional facility had consisted of a large tent with about 180 sleeping mats and basic amenities, such as restroom facilities, storage and a basketball court. It operated from February to July.

An estimated 96 ships are expected to arrive at the port yearly, bearing vehicles imported from Mexico, Asia and Europe. After being unloaded, the facility will clean and detail the automobiles, and in some cases provide factory services, such as installing components, before delivering them to dealerships. According to Pasha Larson, the company is marketing to all car manufacturers.  Export of vehicles to Pacific Rim countries is also a possibility.

“This agreement supports many of the goals of the Port’s strategic plan,” said Elaine Forbes, Port of San Francisco, interim executive director. “It promotes our maritime industries; increases the volume of cargo shipping; improves and efficiently manages Port property; increases revenue, and most importantly, creates jobs and job training opportunities. We are looking forward to the long-term partnership.”

According to John Pasha, U.S. automotive sales soared to a record high of 17.5 million vehicles purchased in 2015.  Though he expects the upward trend to continue, industry experts generally anticipate lower future auto sales.  Pier 80 is strategically located to meet demand, and to supply vehicles for the Northern California market. Pasha hopes that the transportation hub will reduce emissions resulting from trucks hauling merchandise hundreds of miles north from Los Angeles.

“We are not increasing sales of autos locally, but will be delivering autos by water that otherwise travel to the Bay Area on freeways from several hundred miles away today. Our location in San Diego, as an example, handles tens of thousands of autos destined for the Bay Area today. We anticipate reducing truck miles substantially by offering a port terminal so close to a large auto market,” explained Pasha Larson.

Recent research done by CBRE Group Inc., a global commercial real estate services company, indicates that demand for prime logistics spaces in global trade hubs has increased as the e-commerce market grows and sites suitable for development of logistics hubs remains limited. Increase in demand for spaces similar to Pier 80 has resulted in a rise in rents of these industrial locations by 2.8 percent globally and 5.6 percent for U.S. coastal hubs. Of the global logistics hubs researched, Oakland’s industrial spaces showed the fastest growth in 2015, with a 29.8 percent increase in rents.