(August 26, 2002) -- Roughly 24 hours before the grassroots group LBHUSH2 plans a City Council confrontation over city management's plans to enlarge LB Airport's passenger facilities, LB Airport management has given LBReport.com the public's first look at proposed Airport facilities additions, including detailed numerical data and maps not previously released.
We post the maps and chart data below.
The charts and maps provided by LB Airport management compare the current Airport terminal area facilities with a 1996-97 proposed southern addition (never built) and the now-proposed temporary facility (on which the Council is set to vote on August 27).
Perhaps of greater significance, the materials include previously unseen details of city management's planned permanent Airport terminal area addition -- a footprint totaling roughly 38,000 sq. ft., which Airport management stresses is half comprised (roughly 19,000 sq. ft.) of a canopied, open air exterior baggage claim area.
As previously reported (and reported first) by LBReport.com, city management has put the permanent facility expansion on a fast track by getting Council approval (in June) for a "design-build" contract approach. (A Request for Proposals for the design-build contract has not yet been issued, but is expected soon.)
City staff does not currently plan additional environmental review of the expanded facilities, justifying its decision based on a 1997 "Negative Declaration" (finding no significant environmental impacts) from a 12,000 sq. ft. proposed enlargement (never built) which City Hall said at the time was sufficient for 41 flights.
This has enraged local activists, including airport impacted homeowners comprising LBHUSH2, who vow a fight over the temporary and the fast tracked permanent additions. They seek a moratorium on further Airport facility expansions and have questioned City Hall's numerical justifications (which until now hadn't been publicly detailed.)
Airport management stresses that the larger permanent addition sought now (roughly 38,000 sq. ft comprised of roughly 19,000 sq. ft. for holdroom/security and roughly 19,000 sq. ft. for baggage) reflects higher passenger levels than expected by 41 flights in 1997. LB Airport management notes today's planes are larger, LB flights carry higher load factors (percent of filled seats) and airports now have more stringent security requirements.
Airport management also notes that the 19,000 sq. ft baggage addition will be basically open except for a canopy.
The materials released by LB Airport management this afternoon lay out city staff's numerical case, showing in detail the proposed square footage and proposed configuration.
We post the maps and charts in pdf form below.
- Proposed Holdroom, Security Screening and Baggage Claim Improvements. First look at a map of the proposed sizes and layout for the temporary and permanent proposed facility additions. Shaded areas show existing facilities. Proposed temporary holdroom is at the top (western end) of terminal area. Map also shows footprint of permanent proposed additions to the south adjacent to existing terminal facility. [Caveat: 1.3 MB high resolution file, long download]
- 1996-97 Council approved (never built) roughly 12,000 sq. ft. additions. [Caveat: The green optional (outdoor food court) was not part of the negative declaration. Further caveat: Roughly 900 kB file, long download]
- LB Airport Terminal Enhancements, Chart 1. Provides data showing existing facility and proposed permanent additions. Compares terminal, south passenger holdroom interior, total interior square footage and "exterior enhancements" (i.e., the 19,000 sq. ft. baggage claim addition). (Approx. 125 kb)
- LB Airport Terminal Enhancement Comparisons, Chart 2. Compares 1997 recommended additions, with current proposed additions and their numerical changes. Includes an important note, indicating the 1997 addition allowed 13.3 sq. ft. per person compared to Uniform Building Code standard now 15 sq. ft. per person. (Approx. 120 kB)
- LB Airport Temporary Passenger Facilities, Chart 3. Compares the temporary north holdroom with the proposed temporary south holdroom and indicates numerical totals. (Approx. 125 kB)
- LB Airport facility capacities and current passenger traffic. Graph shows passenger level peaks and valleys throughout the day. Also indicates final capacity will be less than peak. (Caveat: 500 kB, moderate download)
City Hall has angered local activists by having staff self-approve the site plan for the permanent proposed addition in an effort to bypass further environmental or Council review. Bixby Knolls resident Ron Noe has appealed staff's decision to the Planning Commission...and a number of local activists are insisting the Council take up the matter in detail.
City management is using the 1996-97 Negative Declaration (which assumed fewer passengers for 41 flights) to justify the current expanded facilities that accommodate more passengers...but is simultaneously refusing to review the impacts resulting from higher passenger levels. City Hall notes the number of flights themselves has not changed since the smaller project underwent environmental review.
As previously reported by LBReport.com, city management has separately indicated it plans to ask the Council to vote in September as part its adopted budget to authorize collecting a per passenger facility fee to pay off bonds that will be floated to pay for construction.
City management will ask the Council to OK the temporary enlarged facilities on August 27. Airport management says the temporary addition is needed to handle 41 large daily commercial flights + 3 commuter flights starting in October, 2002...which could bring LB Airport 3 million passengers per year in just months...roughly double the figure when LB previously reached 41 flights. 3 million annual passengers would be an all time record number of passengers at LB Airport...and could go higher.
In May 2001, LB Airport had roughly 15 daily flights with roughly 600,000 passengers per year. At that time, the Southern California Association of Governments forecast 3 million passengers per year by 2025.
Now, due in large part to a May, 2001 Council vote (8-1, Carroll dissenting), LB could reach nearly 3 million passengers per year by October, 2002.
The May, 2001 Council vote reversed years of past LB policy -- which treated 41 flights as a judicially imposed worst case -- and aggressively pursued 41 flights as a goal to be attained...something never legally required.
Within days of the May, 2001 Council vote making it easier for carriers to hold vacant flight slots longer before flying them, JetBlue Airways reserved all of LB's then vacant 27 large commercial flight slots, instantly maxing out (based on the current noise budget) the 41 slots reserved for aircraft over 75,000 pounds.
In early 2002, American Airlines then triggered a crisis by demanding four additional slots. LB City Hall refused, charting a potential collision course which was avoided when American agreed to fly four of JetBlue's slots temporarily until January, 2003. JetBlue has said it intends to retrieve its four slots in January and begin flying them...and American has repeatedly insisted it reserves the right to pursue challenges to LB's denial of additional slots.
As previously reported by LBReport.com, closed door meetings have taken place involving air carriers and LB city officials at the FAA's regional HQ. As also reported by LBReport.com, the meetings could be a prerequisite to a potentially serious demand by some carrier that the FAA take "enforcement" action against LB's refusal to grant more slots.
LB City Hall strongly defends the city's actions and the city's noise ordinance. It notes that LB's Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance is one of the most progressive in the country and utilizes a "noise bucket" that effectively encourages users to fly quieter aircraft and has been explicitly approved by a reviewing federal district (trial) court.
The bottom line: LB City Hall expects 41 large daily commercial flights and 3 regional flights (Horizon Air) by October...44 commercial flights in total...with 22 regional jet slots potentially left. LB Airport management denies it is marketing these slots now.
Under LB's current noise ordinance, if Airport management determines that noise produced as a class by the current 41 large commercial flights is empirically, measurably lower than the noise budgeted for that class (in 1995), it can allow more flights within that class without further Council vote.