Remarks as prepared for delivery by Lou Anne Bynum
Chair of Board of Directors, LB Area Chamber of Commerce
Airport Advisory Commission, Thursday, September 16, 2004
Re: Long Beach Airport Renovation:
Response to Staff Recommended Facility Plan
Good evening. My name is Lou Anne Bynum and I am a resident of Long Beach and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
I am here tonight on behalf of the Chamber and its more than 1,900 business members to encourage you to continue to support the scope of renovation outlined in the Staff Recommended Facilities Plan.
The current permanent facilities at the Long Beach Airport were designed to accommodate only fifteen (15) airline flights and the last permanent addition was done over twenty (20) years ago. Temporary facilities -- tents, trailers, and mobile office structures currently in place -- are inconvenient and donít come close to providing an adequate level of service and facilities needed for the traveling public and the residents of Long Beach. Nor do they promote the image of Californiaís fifth largest city.
We are in complete agreement that the City of Long Beach should only permit flights within the confines of the current City of Long Beach FAA approved Noise Ordinance -- and we support terminal facility improvements with a design that stays within 41 commercial and 25 commuter daily flights.
With that in mind, the current facilities cannot reasonably accommodate the existing demands in the terminal at current peak periods. The Airport is a key gateway to the City and region and a first impression to passengers. It is also a critical economic development anchor for our entire City, the downtown area, the Convention Center and the Port.
In 1998, hundreds of people worked over the course of many months to develop the 2010 Strategic Plan for the entire City. Under Goal I: Economic Opportunity for All, a statement was made re the Airportís role in business development based on our Cityís strengths. I quote: "Develop a strategy for land use at the Airport that maximizes the economic return to the community."
This renovation project does exactly that -- it improves the service and conditions at the Airport to maximize usage and economic return while ensuring that the current noise ordinance is not violated. Linking this project to the 2010 Plan in this manner is a clear example of responsible economic development that takes into consideration the concerns of all the residents in Long Beach.
Regarding improvements and scope. We are not talking about "over the top, extravagant accommodations." We are talking about clean, decent, convenient accommodations for the passengers that use the airport -- again -- staying within the confines of the current noise and flight ordinance. The proposed reductions substantially undermine the improved quality of basic services that are essential to any airport. The only places to cut -- hold rooms and concession areas -- are those that would offer the most benefit to passengers. In addition, the reductions to the concession area -- eliminating specialty retail and reducing concession seating area -- reduces the projected revenue to the City. We all know the pain involved in budget cuts. This flies in the face of good judgment -- both in terms of decent customer service and with regard to appropriate avenues to increase the general fund revenue.
Let me also say something about the concerns expressed by residents re air quality. It is ridiculous to think that the Chamber is against clean air or efforts to improve our air quality. All of us want a good quality of life. We recognize, however, that quality of life issues like this are significant public policy issues that go way beyond the Port or the Airport for that matter. Our very large region is thoroughly congested with traffic of all kinds and the air is unhealthy throughout the southland. To try to solve this regional problem by attempting to limit reasonable improvements at the Airport -- within a hard fought and currently protected noise and flight ordinance -- is very short sighted.
And we think it is misplaced. None of us want the federal government to step in and dictate what usage our airport should support. By not reasonably managing our own development needs at the Airport, which protects our hard fought flight and noise ordinance, we open the door to possible intrusion by the government. There are a lot of concerns that people have raised that are way beyond the scope of this project.
The Chamber asks that you support the proposed scope of renovation. It is an economic development issue for our City and it is the right decision for you.