|(Aug. 9, 2017, 4:45 p.m.) -- City Prosecutor Doug Haubert today (Aug. 9) announced that it requested, and JetBlue has agreed to pay, $6,000 -- double the amount it previously agreed to pay -- under a consent decree for the first six violations of LB's Airport ordinance that may occur within a calendar quarter. The amount was previously $3,000 for the first six violations, with $6,000 for violations thereafter within a calendar quarter, all payable to the non-profit LB Public Library Foundation. It's now $6,000 per violation, plain and simple.
The development comes after 4th dist. Councilman Daryl Supernaw, logged and disseminated via his monthly e-mail newsletter increasing monthly totals of JetBlue flights beyond the LB Airport ordinance's 10 p.m./11 p.m. curfew...and in July, Supernaw indicated that was seeking a greater deterrent and planning to agendize the issue for City Council discussion.
In an emailed statement today (Aug. 9), City Prosecutor Haubert states:
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[City Prosecutor Haubert text] JetBlue has agreed to increase the amount it will pay under the Consent Decree to $6,000 for each violation of Long Beach’s Airport Noise Ordinance. The 2003 Consent Decree required JetBlue to pay $3,000 for each violation up to six in a quarter, and then $6,000 for additional violations during the quarter.
On July 7, Councilman Supernaw signaled that he planned to introduce a City Council agenda item (date not specified) to examine the issue of the LB Airport ordinance's fine structure in the context of providing a better deterrent. In his July 7th weekly newsletter, Councilman Supernaw headlined an item "JetBlue Fined Record-Breaking $168,900 for June Noise Violations" and wrote:
It has become painfully obvious, especially to those living under the flight path, that our "coveted" noise ordinance is not serving its intended purpose. JetBlue violated the 11:00 pm curfew 31 times (every night on average) and the 10:00 pm curfew 48 times last month. This clearly indicates the fine structure is not an adequate deterrent to violating the curfew. For that reason, I will be introducing a city council agenda item in the very near future to examine this issue.
Councilman Supernaw's newsletter included the following chart:
Two weeks later in his July 21 e-news letter, Councilman Supernaw reiterated that he wants solutions to JetBlue flights beyond the 10 p.m./11 p.m. curfew in LB's Airport ordinance and, without offering details, said he anticipated "a major announcement on that front within the next 30 days." In his July 21 e-newsletter, Councilman Supernaw stated:
In our July 7th newsletter, I stated that our airport noise ordinance is not serving its intended purpose. The evidence is contained in the chart below that shows the noise violation fines for each year from 2012 to present. You'll notice the column on the far right exceeds the annual dollar amount of all the others. Here's the kicker: it's for only the first half of 2017! It is clearly time to look for solutions, and we're anticipating a major announcement on that front within the next 30 days.
LB's Airport ordinance, adopted in 1995 in a federal court approved settlement of airline litigation and maintained under a Congressionally-enacted grandfathering provision in a federal law (ANCA), allows the City of LB to regulate the number of daily flights and their hours at its airport, an ability that only handful of U.S. airport operators have.
The LB City Attorney's office has on previous occasions cautioned against tampering with LB's Airport ordinance out of concern that such changes might cause the FAA, or a federal court, or both, to hold that LB had forfeited its federal grandfathering protections; such an outcome would leave the City of Long Beach legally unable to protect itself and its residents from unlimited daily take-offs and landings at all hours on all runways at its own Airport.
The consent decree doesn't change the terms of the Airport ordinance. The consent decree is an agreement between the parties to it (the City of LB via the City Prosecutor's office and JetBlue) which is outside the terms of the Airport ordinance...although payments under the consent decree are triggered if JetBlue violates the ordinance.
LB's Airport ordinance includes a "curfew" requiring air carriers to schedule all departures and arrivals between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. However air carrier operations between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. are allowed if the delays result from weather, air traffic, or mechanical issues. Violations between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. caused by unanticipated delays beyond the operator's reasonable control (such as weather, air traffic or mechanical issues) are waived on presentation of evidence satisfactory to the City that the delayed arrival or departure resulted from these circumstances. Air carrier operations after 11 p.m. are automatically deemed violations and fined; after two warnings, a third violation brings an administrative fine of $100; the fourth and subsequent fines are $300.
However the consent decree, negotiated in 2003 by the LB City Prosecutor's office and renewed annually, allows JetBlue to avoids criminal prosecution for ordinance violations by paying what had been $3,000 -- now $6,000 -- for each of the first six times it violates the Airport ordinance in any calendar quarter. The amount increases to $6,000 per violation thereafter in that calendar quarter. JetBlue pays these sums to the non-profit LB Public Library Foundation.
Further as newsworthy on this breaking story.
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