Airport Development Follow-Up:
Council Votes 8-0 To Acquire Vacated Nat'l Guard Site Alongside 405 Fwy Near Airport
Will Accommodate Completion Of Kilroy Airport Development, Could Mean More Office Space, Possibly Another Hotel; Master Plan OK'd in the 80s But Final Configuration Not Yet Conclusively Determined
Item Put In "Consent Calendar"; Two 8th Dist. Residents Ask For Separate Discussion; Mayor Moves Consent Calendar To End Of Lengthy Agenda...Without Council Objection
8th Dist. Residents, Unable To Remain For Hours, Rely On Councilman Webb To Present Their Concerns; Read -- And Hear -- What He Said
Previous approvals and future procedure
(December 20, 2002) -- The City Council has voted 8-0 to reacquire city land leased to the state for the recently vacated CA National Guard site paralleling the 405 freeway near the Airport. As previously reported by LBReport.com (the only LB media outlet to alert readers to the story before the Council acted), a city staff memorandum (which we post below) indicates that along with two other parcels, it will accommodate completion of the Kilroy Airport development, which could include more office space and perhaps another airport area hotel.
LBReport.com has posted city staff's memo verbatim in pdf form on the following link (the map is page three). To access the document, click City staff report re Kilroy parcels; map is page three. Master Planning for the Kilroy Airport project took place in the 1980s, but final site plan review (City Hall approval of the exact configuration) has not yet taken place, city staff has told LBReport.com (details below).
The motion to approve reacquiring the CA Nat'l Guard parcel passed 8-0 (Yes: Baker, Colonna, Carroll, Kell, Richardson, Uranga, Webb, Lerch. Absent on item: Lowenthal)
The item was on the Council's Dec. 17 "consent calendar," items not scheduled for individual discussion unless some member of the public or a Councilmember requests it. 8th district resident Bruce Alton complied with Council procedure and arrived at the meeting early to request the item be discussed separately. Mr. Alton and LBHUSH2 founder Rae Gabelich both planned to speak to it.
However, at the start of the Council meeting, Mayor Beverly O'Neill said the Council's order of business would be changed for the evening due to the evening's lengthy agenda. Without Council opposition, the Mayor said the consent calendar, normally handled early in the meeting, would be shifted to the end of a 48 item agenda. (The Dec. 17 agenda was longer than most because the Council cancelled its previous week's meeting to let some members travel to Salt Lake City for a "Nat'l League of Cities" meeting, and Council meetings for the next two week are cancelled for Christmas and New Years.)
Any Councilmember could have asked that Airport area item be discussed sooner. None did. (If the Mayor had refused to discuss the item earlier, a Council majority could have decided to take the item earlier.)
Instead, Mr. Alton and Ms. Gabelich told LBReport.com that Councilman Webb informed them that if they'd put their concerns in writing, he would present them on their behalf. (Councilman Webb said as much publicly during the Council meeting).
We provide a written transcript below -- and audio files you can hear -- of what Councilman Webb said at the Council meeting. We believe the audio is relevant in assessing the 8th district Councilman's presentation.
Audio of Councilman Webb (portion from the City Clerk's tape, quick duped by us) is posted in the ra format (compressed files, uses "Real Audio" player which some people have). Clicking on the audio hyperlinks should launch a download and play the audio; make sure you have your speakers on. We've divided the audio files into separate chunks for quicker downloads
Webb audio cut #1 (ra) 310 kB
Councilman Webb: Thank you Mayor O'Neill. I had a couple of constituents that were here to speak to this agenda item. With the change in policy they went ahead and left. They felt that they elected me to represent them here till late at night...
Mayor O'Neill: Actually, it's a change in procedure tonight, not policy.
Councilman Webb: Policy? Change in procedure tonight, thank you for clarifying that for me. I have given to the clerk a copy of a letter that was from Mr. Bruce Alton, and I will attempt to relate those concerns right now as well....
The letter has two concerns and it is with the, one regarding the airport, pardon me while I gather my thoughts here. There are concerns that, and certainly while I support Kilroy's office uses over there, the concerns with airport, with a hotel, and as was stated earlier there are about five hotels that I've heard that have been mentioned for possibility in the area.
And I think what my constituents are gettin' at here, and the letter speaks for itself, those of you are reading that, is that perhaps we should be in the mode of master planning around the airport versus what the concerns are, that any additional hotels in the area, we're seeking additional parking, that we're gonna end up coming up with increased demand for flights.
And that a master planned project around the airport that would include office high rise, hotels, parking would be something that we could address with the community, rather than in a piecemeal fashion as we have. And we have the community come down wondering if we have alternative agendas because we don't have this in a master plan fashion.
Webb audio cut #2 (ra) 288 kB
The second concern that my constituents have raised were the advancing of, I think it was a half million dollars of airport enterprise fund to get us out of the lease with the National Guard. I understand that the funds, it's about $6,000 a month in revenue we won't be receiving until the item is built out or I think a four and half year time frame and then it'll become market rent on that.
And I would venture to, and is it my understanding these are airport enterprise zone funds, is that correct? Well, sorry, did I say enterprise zone? Airport enterprise funds that are paying this, not general fund. And it, quite frankly, right now we're at a time that the airport is not being able to respond to constituents, the concerns and the complaints that are coming through. We need more staffing at the airport right now to address these complaints, people are not gettin'' their phone calls returned and there's a lot of concern that we could do a lot more with those funds to upgrade the web site and do a few other things.
So I wanted to have that opportunity to express my constituents' concerns. I am not opposed to Kilroy Airport Center and the office space there. I think it's probably one of the most successful office complexes we have in the city of Long Beach.
My constituents have some concerns, like that if we had a master plan, and talk about these things and where hotels are gonna to go, and what kind of airport surrounding development that we have that takes place in a way that they can provide some input and we can buy in the community, so thank you Mayor O'Neill.
5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell said the CA National Guard was paying City Hall $33,000 in rent and Kilroy would pay $83,000 in rent "this is good news for the city as far as our finances go." (Later in the meeting, Councilman Webb strengthened Kell's argument, noting City Hall would actually collect more rent when the project was completed.)
Vice Mayor Colonna offered the following in support:
At the end of the day when we look at this opportunity, first it's an increased source of revenue for us for the city, but at the same time in my view, considering the local economics as to what we're dealing with in today's market, there are not very many hotels that are getting built. Just considering the fact that financing is extraordinarily difficult to find to build hotel complexes.
So I'm trying to see the connection between office space and additional activity at the airport. It seems to me that we're not talking about adding on more terminal space here, we're talking about the possibility of having other commercial operations at the airport. Just because it happens to be at the airport, for example, I know we have the Auto Club there, a large facility that provides for the services of the entire city as well as the region.
So I find this to be a good project and I would believe that nothing's getting built and this is just a termination of a lease anyway, and any construction on the project will be going through our processes of planning and building and appeals and whatever if people have those kinds of concerns and will have a second chance at this..."
Councilman Webb then spoke again...and amplified what Vice Mayor Colonna and Councilwoman Kell had said:
Webb audio cut #3 (ra) 210 kB
...Councilmember Colonna actually mentioned the point that I had said. I mean, I'm representing the concerns of my community here. And certainly we are not entitling a project at this time and actually, to be fair, I think the economic benefit to the airport enterprise fund is more than was stated by Councilmember Kell...
...We do need to be doing some better things right now with the Airport and our communication. People are not getting their phone calls returned; this is a good opportunity to state it.
And the other one is that we need to be constantly thinking, anything that we're doing right now as far as development out there. I think we need to be able to master plan and bring that to a community and to work with the community, because we're under suspect right now with our constituents on that issue. Thank you Mayor O'Neill, my colleagues, for hearing me out.
A city staff memo to Councilmembers, submitted by Community Development Director Melanie Fallon and Public Works Director Ed Shikada and approved by Acting City Manager Gerry Miller stated in part: "Development of this area will complete the Kilroy Airport Center project and may include two or more multi-story office buildings, along with a hotel and surface parking lot on a total of approximately 12.1 acres of land."
A city staff memo accompanying the agenda item further stated:
In 1965, the City entered into a 50-year lease with the State of California (State) to operate facilities for the California National Guard (CNG) on Long Beach Airport property. For the past 12 years, the City has requested CNG [California National Guard] to vacate this site to allow for further development of the adjoining Kilroy Airport Center (Kilroy). The CNG site has long been identified as a potential area for development in Kilroy's existing leases with the City and Water Department.
The CNG vacated this site in early 2002 and consolidated its operations in Los Alamitos...
City staff's memo indicates the CNG parcel will be leased to Kilroy for development in conjunction with two other parcels -- one (about 3.37 acres) immediately west of the CNG site (paralleling the 405 freeway along Kilroy Airport Way) and another (about 4.77 acres) stretching to Spring St.
The city will pay the state $550,000 from the Airport Enterprise Fund (not the General Fund) to compensate for early termination of the lease. City staff's memo indicates "increased revenue from the Airport's current parking operations is expected to fully offset this expense within six months."
City staff has informed LBReport.com that in the 1980s, a Master Plan for the Kilroy Airport Business Center was approved and an EIR was completed on the Master Plan. The area covered by the CA Nat'l Guard site, plus two nearby Water Dept. parcels (map included in city staff memo, link above) are part of "Phase 4" of the Master Plan.
Before development proceeds, City Hall Site Plan Review is required. City staff indicated this could be done at a staff level (without an additional public hearing...since public parts of the process took place in the 1980s). Staff level site plan review is appealable to the Planning Commission (not the City Council) if an appeal is filed within 10 days of staff's Site Plan Review approval.
However, public notice of a staff level Site Plan Review is not automatic. When city staff gave Site Plan Review approval to a recently proposed Airport Terminal expansion, a resident (who learned of it from LBReport.com coverage) filed a timely appeal, targeting the matter for a possible Planning Commission hearing. That didn't happen because the Council subsequently agreed the proposed expansion deserved Council level review (expected in coming months). Those interested in City Hall Site Plan Review for the final phase of the Kilroy airport area project could presumably ask to receive notice of it.
Some speculate office space is more likely than another airport area hotel. LB airport already has three airport area hotels (Holiday Inn, Residence Inn and Marriott, the latter soon to be enlarged with previously granted Council approval). City Hall has also indicated it plans another hotel near the Airport entrance, and the planned Boeing PacifiCenter project may also include a hotel.