Council Declines To Press For Production of City Mgt. Report -- Unanimously Requested in May 2002 -- On Airport's Effects On Health & Home Values
Council Referral To Advisory Group Delays Previously Scheduled EIR Vote On Terminal Expansion Issues
LBHUSH2's Gabelich Blasts Council's Conduct From Podium
Council statement by LBHUSH2 president Rae Gabelich
(Dec. 6, 2003) -- At its Dec. 2, 2003 meeting, the LB City Council took no action to pursue a report on LB Airport's effects on residents' health and home values -- sought by Councilmembers Webb, Carroll, Colonna and Kell in May 2002 and approved at that time on a 9-0 Council vote.
LB's lawmakers also effectively agreed to delay -- likely until after the April 2002 Council elections -- a key vote on what issues should be examined in an EIR City Hall plans to use to justify its desired expansion of the Airport's permanent terminal facilities.
Earlier in the Dec. 2 Council meeting, Rae Gabelich, president of the grassroots homeowner group LBHUSH2, used the period for public comment on non-agendized items to confront Councilmembers in unusually blunt terms over City Hall's failure to do what had been promised:
"You took two separate votes: May 14, 2002 and October 14, 2003, to provide your community with valuable information dealing with our health and well being. A human health risk assessment and an economic impact report that relates to airports and residential neighborhoods. Today is the day they are due. Today, once again you are diverting attention away from what you as our representatives have been asked to provide."
At one point, turning directly to Councilman Webb, Ms. Gabelich said, "Councilman Webb, I continue to try to believe that you will be the leader through this maze of confusion and conflict. If this is too difficult, then you too may be successfully challenged."
We post Ms. Gabelich's statement as delivered in full at the conclusion of this article.
On October 14, 2003, Councilmembers voted (motion by Councilman Webb) to ask city management to return on Dec. 2 with options for presenting information on the Airport's effects on health and home values, either alone...or as part of the EIR that City Hall will use to expand the Airport's permanent terminal facilities.
Dec. 2 was selected since the Council was scheduled to vote on that date on what issues would be included in the Airport terminal facilities expansion EIR. That didn't happen either.
As previously reported by LBReport.com, on Dec. 2 city management did not agendize a response to the Council's Oct. 14 motion. City Manager Jerry Miller professed confusion and said he accepted responsibility.
But when 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell (who had joined with Webb, Colonna and Carroll in requesting the stand alone airport report in May 2002) made a motion to have management produce that stand alone report, City Manager Miller argued:
"I think that is actually part of the scope of the Environmental Impact Report and I think that Mr. Salk [chair of an Airport advisory group, see below] has addressed that partially tonight and that would be part of that scope to be brought back to you for your later authorization."
[LBReport.com note: There is no formal scope of the Environmental Impact Report yet. The Council decides that...and was supposed to vote on it on Dec. 2...but on Oct. 21, the Council effectively delayed its vote by first referring the issue to its Airport advisory group. A Dec. 2 agenda item reaffirmed referring Airport terminal issues to the Airport advisory group. Further details below.]
Councilwoman Kell -- who has previously urged that information on the Airport's health effects be delivered -- several times reiterated her insistence on providing the stand alone report. After hearing City Manager Miller's response, she asked:
"So you're saying that it's already been included in other motions, is that what you're saying?" Mr. Miller replied, "I believe it has been."
Based on Mr. Miller's statement, Councilwoman Kell did not press her motion further...and Councilman Webb did not make his own motion to insist on the report for which he had previously voted.
City Manager Miller separately told the Council that city staff has begun work on response to an Oct. 14 motion by Councilwoman Richardson (unanimously passed by the Council) that sought options for a comprehensive report on LB's air quality as impacted by LB Airport, the Port of LB, and area freeways. LB's Dept. of Health and Human Services has begun looking into the subject matter, City Manager Miller indicated.
The Council concluded the item by voting to proceed in accordance with its Oct. 21, 2003 vote referring issues surrounding the Airport's permanent terminal expansion, and its related EIR, to the Council's appointed "Airport Advisory Commission." The Council has previously filled the group with a large percentage of current and former licensed pilots and others with aviation ties (about half).
The Council votes that sent the Airport terminal issues to the Airport advisory group came despite two well-attended October scoping meetings at which the public spent hours already testifying on what the issues the EIR should include. Referring the issue to Airport Advisory Group will likely delay a Council vote on the scope of the Airport terminal expansion EIR for several months.
(during public comment on non-agendized items)
Ms. Gabelich: I am here not as a CAVE person ["citizens against virtually everything"] nor an antagonist or misinformant, but as a citizen of the Long Beach community who has been asking for two years, "Where is this airport growing to?" With no direct or complete answers with you as my Council...
Mayor O'Neill: Just a minute Rae. Is this on the agenda?
Ms Gabelich:: No it is not on the agenda.
Mayor O'Neill: It's not on the agenda? OK.
Ms. Gabelich: It was on the agenda.
Mayor O'Neill:: OK, very good. Thanks.
Ms. Gabelich: ...with no direct or complete answers from you as my Council, or staff as the architects of this city,
You took two separate votes: May 14, 2002 and October 14, 2003, to provide your community with valuable information dealing with our health and well being. A human health risk assessment and an economic impact report that relates to airports and residential neighborhoods.
Today is the day they are due. Today, once again you are diverting attention away from what you as our representatives have been asked to provide.
This is an election year for [Council districts] 2, 4, 6 and 8. Do not try to sweep this past the April  vote and hope to be reelected based on more delayed false promises.
[Turns to Councilman Carroll] Councilman Carroll: Using the LBHUSH mantra, "no airport expansion," is good, only the fine print reads differently. Yours reads, "beyond the city's current airport noise ordinance." Ours reads, "it will increase noise and pollution and decrease property values." Ask the residents of Lennox or Inglewood.
The signs, "Say No to Airport Expansion," will not go away. They will continue to be displayed as a public message that the citizens of Long Beach come first.
In addition Councilman Carroll, your opponent in the upcoming Council race, Patrick O'Donnell, is not a pawn of LBHUSH2. He attended early HUSH meetings because he too...
Mayor O'Neill: That's political, go on to the next item please.
Ms. Gabelich: ...he was concerned about the potential growth and how it would affect his young family.
[Turns to Councilman Webb] Councilman Webb, I continue to try to believe that you will be the leader through this maze of confusion and conflict. If this is too difficult, then you too may be successfully challenged.
I can promise you that the efforts of involved community groups will continue and will take whatever form is necessary to protect the future of our families, our homes and our community.
Listen to what we're asking. Provide the blueprint to get there. Stop the razzle dazzle mentality. How can we hear the truth above the roar?
And finally, [turns to Councilwoman Richardson] Councilwoman Richardson, your request for the cost of a cumulative [air quality] impact report was also due today. Will it be provided? The cost will be significant, but the burden of growth and progress from the Ports to the Airport should not rest on the health and well-being of the citizens of Long Beach.
Since I still have time left, some of the studies that we would like you to look at [raise a copy of each cited study]: Airport noise and childrens' memory. Cancer danger rises. Brain tumors near airports. Students suffer when airplanes fly overhead. Children and pollution.
And the list goes on, and my time is up. Thank you.