May 14, 2002 Statements by Vice Mayor Frank Colonna, Councilmembers Dennis Carroll, Jackie Kell & Rob Webb On Airport Report They Requested (Received 9-0 Council Vote) Re Airport's Effects Also includes August 14, 2002 Council statement by Councilman Carroll
8th district Councilman Webb agendized an item for the Oct. 14, 2003 City Council meeting with the following memo:
On May 14, 2002, the City Council directed the City Manager to prepare a report regarding environmental issues pertaining to Long Beach Airport. This item was agendized jointly by me, Councilmembers Colonna, Carrol and Kell, and was passed unanimously.
The report was to include an analysis of the environmental effects of 41 flights and the possible economic impact upon adjoining property values. During discussion of this item, Councilmembers indicated that the report should also address health and safety issues. I would like to know when we could expect the report to be presented to City Council and what it will encompass so that I can respond to inquiries from my constituents.
I also recommend that the human impact and safety questions be added to the scope of the Airport Environmental Impact Report that is currently underway.
The statements below were delivered at the October 14, 2003 Council meeting by the
co-authorsof the May 14, 2002 Council request for the Airport report. Our transcript below is unofficial, prepared by us; ellipses indicate deletions; bracketed material by us for clarity. May 14, 2002 Councilman Dennis Carroll
...We the citizens of Long Beach are on the leading edge of a storm being visited upon us by way of our airport. It has been raging through Los Angeles, the city, the county, Orange County, San Diego County and frankly at the national level as well...
It is my view that we cannot afford to batten down the hatches and hide in the cellar and hope that it passes. We have been through this traumatic incident before. There was about eleven years of litigation involving not only air carriers and the city but our own citizens, 1600 of whom brought suit against the city on the basis that their lives were substantially disrupted. And I hope to present a part of that case this evening.
...One of the critical issues is the location of the airport. Unfortunately, it happens to be in the middle of our city. I do not know how many other cities find themselves in this circumstance but there are neighborhoods that have grown up and developed, and Los Altos is the one I will be speaking on behalf of tonight, that are inordinately impacted.
The problem with an airport from the perspective of the person representing Los Altos is the benefits, to the extent they exist, are widely dispersed throughout the city and principally those are benefits of convenience for our citizens who can take planes in and out of Long Beach as well as the economic dimensions of it, but the burdens are borne by a select few, those immediately under the flight path, either coming in or going out.
It is my belief that those burdens can become so substantial that not only the health of our citizens there can be compromised, but ultimately the economic base which supports those two communities, that is Los Altos and we'll here about Cal Heights from Councilman Webb, can become blighted. That is, the burden can become such that people who have the ability to move, and those people do, will, blight is not something that could be contained and it will spread if it happened, and I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that from happening, not only through Los Altos but up into the 5th district, down into the 3d district.
And it is my hope that this process will begin to educate our citizens that everyone has a stake in this issue. It is a fight that we need to no more move away from but need to actively move into...
[Councilman Carroll discusses Federal Court of Appeal ruling on LB Airport, citing part of the Appeal Court's opinion]...a local airport should be allowed, the court concluded, to enact noise ordinances if it has a rational belief that, number one, the ordinance will reduce the possibility of liability, that is the citizens suing the city because of excessive noise, or enhanced quality of the city's human environment.
And that is the dimension that I would like to explore tonight, and my request by way of this agenda item, concerns itself.
It is my belief that limiting this discussion to noise does a great disservice to the human dimensions of this issue. We know that noise is an important dimension of it but other aspects of it may be at least as important if not more important.
Not the least of which is the nature of the particulates that are spewed out into the atmosphere by the jet fuel. The soot that my neighbors will tell you they hose off their patio furniture in the backyard and their cars and kills their lemon trees. The items, and believe it or not ice even occasionally will fall off a jet plane.
The economic impact, which is argued and used as a justification for our city's airport, I'm sure there are economic benefits, from my perspective has not put into the equation the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods in terms of its effect on property values, on the health of the people that live there, on the safety of the children, and I have two schools in the fourth district, each of them have between 700 and a 1,000 children. Those planes fly over and you can count the rivets when they go over. Class stops when the planes go over. And parents have to make decisions about whether they want to keep their children in those schools when our flights are programmed to increase from 15 up to 41. Do they want to remodel their homes, or get out while the getting's good?
These economic and basic fundamental life decisions that all families have to make are under a terrific cloud at this time. And I urge that we do several things...With respect to my part of it, I'm asking for a preliminary report. I'm not asking for an Environmental Impact Report yet. This is the first step. That preliminary report would address several things.
Number one: with respect to a full on Environmental Impact Report, what is the cost of it? The last time we did one on our airport case it was $500,000. We have an update from 1997 that is very helpful to us but doesn't contain everything that I think is germane and relevant to this conversation.
Number two, how long would it take to prepare one?
Number three, who are the persons who are most qualified, who are expert in providing that information to us?
I would like to hear from the City Manager and Mr. Shannon, and I would hope within 30 to 45 days, their opinions with respect to that issue, and perhaps include some of these items that we have discussed that may not be directly involved in an Environmental Impact Report, that is the economic dimensions of this problem, and perhaps some of the health issues that could be studied, bring in studies from other cities.
So my request at this time is to get this preliminary report, to put everyone no notice that we are taking an aggressive, proactive stance here. We are not simply going to sit and hope for the best. There's no reason we should.
We have what I judge to be strong, equitable arguments to not only preserve our current noise ordinance but to bring within that current ordinance as suggested by the court [of appeal] that final paragraph with respect to enhancing the quality of the city's human environment.
What I would like to see, and what the law has not fully cognized at this point is a Human Impact Report, and that's what we're really dealing with here...We are working night and day on this issue and will continue to do so until it's resolved on human terms.
Councilman Rob Webb
...That school where [a recent community meeting] was held [in the 4th district], Minnie Gant school, is directly under the flight [path]...being a parent of kid that is in the Minnie Gant school with 41 flights coming over is certainly a concern that I don't believe was addressed previously, I don't think the full effects of the environmental effects of that were addressed, not to mention LB State [University], and you look of course Longfellow [Elementary School] and Hughes Middle School, and the schools that are on the takeoff path, once again we [in the 8th district] have a more widely distributed area that is affected. I would certainly, if I was a parent of that school, Minnie Gant, where that meeting was held, where those flights are coming directly over the house, I would be certainly very concerned.
And secondly, there have been a lot of studies that the AQMD has done, studies about Multiple Airborne Toxic Exposure, that was not brought up in the original EIR...I think it's good that these items are being addressed...
Councilwoman Jackie Kell
I want to make it perfectly plain, if I may use that word, and state up front that my position on maintaining our noise ordinance and flight limits has not changed throughout my term on the City Council. My aim with this agenda item is to publicly restate our commitment as a City Council to maintain our current airport noise ordinance and flight slot limits of 41...
Councilman Frank Colonna
My Council colleagues have pointed this out very clearly, giving not only historical perspective but I think just the general overview of the direction of the City Council.
I think what's interesting to point out as well that it's no secret that our neighbors to the south voted to dismiss the opportunity of developing an airport in El Toro. And I would like to think that that was the will of the people in the Orange County area because they were concerned about their quality of life, Irvine, Newport Beach and many of the other cities clearly spoke out that they didn't want any airport development to impact their communities.
And I feel that historically, our city has done a lot of heavy lifting for the region and we will probably continue to do so in a lot of ways. But I think that it's also time to establish the fact that we have done all we can do in terms of what we have agreed to do with the number of flights at our particular airport.
And I think it's important as Councilmember Carroll pointed out that we deal not only with the noise issues but also the other factors that come into play when you deal with a significant amount of airline traffic that's coming into a community.
It was mentioned to me earlier this week about the fact that for many years we're wanting to develop more business opportunity and airline interest in Long Beach. It's kind of interesting now that we've become a very popular entity, that we have numerous suitors.
But if you take a look at the history of where we have come now, we have maximized development at the airport in terms of the ability to reconstruct which we have done. We've got newer facilities at the airport...But I think at this point along with the other Councilmembers that have spoke on, the 3d district, the far corner over the Bixby Hill area and Cal State Long Beach, plus Kettering Junior High School, I think we've got issues that are bottom line human impact and I think that's a big, big factor for us.
And I'm very much supportive of the direction that we are taking and will continue to take with this and I'm very pleased to know that our entire Council is finally bringing this to the forefront, and dealing with it openly now before we have challenges placed in front of us...
Mayor Beverly O'Neill
...I would like to commend Councilmember Carroll, and Councilmember Kell and Colonna and Rob Webb. I think that they are taking very seriously the directions and the concerns of their constituents on this.
The City of Long Beach has been marketing their airport. They are not doing it anymore, because we have reached the capacity that was ordered by the judge. And this has been something that we did try to market, and we had never reached any real capacity because most of the people were with start up airlines.
And we have talked with people in Washington about this, and I think that we do need to be cautious [with] what we're doing. The FAA feels we're going to tell them that we have local control over this, and we have been grandfathered and I'm very pleased that we have been to get this at the time because that does give us some protection, but I also know that we must proceed cautiously when we're dealing with people that feel that they have more control than we have over our particular area, and I'm very proud of the way we're doing this at this time...
Councilman Dennis Carroll
...Item 17, I would like to have the thoughts of the City Attorney officially before we proceed further down that road...
City Attorney Robert Shannon
...Since litigation's been threatened, I'm really limited in what I can say publicly, but I can assure each member of the public that we are in fact developing a legal strategy. We're conferring with outside counsel, in fact we have been conferring with outside counsel for some time now, and we will have an extensive closed session next Tuesday, approximately two hours, before the Council meeting, in which we're going to further develop our legal strategy.
This outside law firm is very experienced in aviation law, and more specifically very, very experienced with regard to similar issues.
I can further assure the public that we are committed to do whatever is legally possible to preserve the ordinance as it's presently constituted. That will be our goal.
Now with regard to the issue of an environmental impact report, let me just say the reason that Mr. Carroll was somewhat circumspect about his request is that, and I ask you to just try to bear with me on this, is that the nature of the environmental report, that is the issues to be addressed, will be in part dictated by the any decisions we make on the best legal strategy that we can follow here.
So since we're currently planning that strategy, the exact framework of the appropriate environmental report has not been thoroughly determined. We're certainly willing to engage in a report, but the exact parameters of that report must await further fleshing out, if you will, of the legal strategy that we plan to employ and that we will discuss at length next Tuesday [May 21] in closed session.
Mayor O'Neill: Mr. Taboada, do you have any comments?
City Manager Taboada: No, Madam Mayor. I reserve my comments for our closed session.
August 14, 2002
Councilman Carroll: We have coming an explication of the current construction program at the Airport. The City Manager is putting that together for us...We have the impact study that I had requested from the legal department and I think it's also well to remember that these impact studies can cut both ways, and before we launch into it, which it looks like we are going to soon, I would like to have, and I would like the public to know, what both the pros and cons of such a report mean for us.
What we want to do is resolve the problem as best we can, rather than create problems for ourselves. And I want to particularly acknowledge the efforts of our City Attorney and the outside counsel that has been retained. I think after Councilmember Colonna went to Washington [in May], it created an environment and a context for negotiations which in fact have begun. The FAA has come out here. Mr. Bennett called a conference and [City Attorney] Shannon have been, I think helpful in formulating various different possibilities for us and we are in the midst of those negotiations.
And I have requested that those items that I was anticipating would be brought forward earlier actually be held sort of in a holding pattern. I do not want to disrupt those negotiations. I have the sense they are moving forward in a way that is constructive and positive and, if we can bring them in in a manner that we hope, everybody will be pleased with...I hope we all appreciate we're moving toward the same objective, and I would hope that those possibilities are more imminent than they may have been and in the next two or three or four weeks we hope to know whether they are successful or not..."
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