(Dec. 13, 2004) -- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has notified LB City Hall that the agency accepts as airport compatible, with caveats, inclusion of a residential component of up to 1,400 dwelling units as part of Boeing Realty's proposed Douglas Park project (mixed uses including commercial, office and retail with residential units on the northern part of the parcel) west of Lakewood Blvd. between Carson St. and LB Airport.
In a letter from FAA DC HQ to LB Airport Manager Chris Kunze, FAA Director of Airport Safety and Standards, David Bennett, states in pertinent part:
LBReport.com posts the FAA letter in full in pdf form. To view it, click FAA Dec. 13, 2004 letter to City of LB re Douglas Park.
The FAA letter effectively supports the position taken by City Hall Planning Staff, the LB City Attorney's office and Boeing Realty, who have consistently said that the Douglas Park project complies with the FAA's rules. The agency correspondence follows a visit to Washington, D.C. by LB Assistant City Attorney Mike Mais and City Hall's Project Manager Amy Bodek who discussed the City's position with FAA officials.
News that the FAA accepts the residential component with caveats comes on the eve of a high stakes City Council hearing -- set for December 14 at 5:00 p.m. -- at which Councilmembers will hear an appeal by a project opponent, challenging the Planning Commission's unanimous Oct. 7 vote certifying the project's Environmental Impact Report.
The FAA letter is a setback for a number of Airport area business interests, private pilots and the Lakewood Village Homeowners Association who object to including residences in the project. Their position gained momentum in September when a different FAA official indicated in a letter to a project opponent that residences might be incompatible with LB Airport operations. That correspondence, addressed to Candace Robinson, proprietor of the LB Flying Club, was not cc'd to City Hall.
Attention now shifts to the December 14 showdown Council meeting...for which both sides have mobilized resources.
The LB Area Chamber of Commerce supports Douglas Park with residences as proposed by Boeing Realty and has sent two mass emails on the subject, urging support for the project.
"The Douglas Park plan is designed to create 11,000 on-site jobs with an annual payroll of $1 billion. Plus 10,000 regional jobs and much needed opportunities for new homes in Long Beach. The Chamber will have a strong show of public support at the upcoming City Council meeting. We want our City’s elected officials to understand the support Douglas Park has in the community," the Chamber email said.
Opponents of the residential component have also mobilized via the internet and by placing an insert detailing their position in some print publications. "Boeing Realty Profits vs. Long Beach JOBS" says their insert..."Boeing Realty's Douglas Park proposal...will only benefit Boeing Realty and hurt Long Beach residents. The Lakewood Village Neighborhood Association...opposes the residential component of the project," it says in part.
Boeing Realty says it sought post-card responses to the project...and they came back at over eight in ten favoring the project as proposed.
In response to an internet email question (admittedly unscientific), LBReport.com "SoundOff" commentator Gary DeLong's commentary "Douglas Park, Can We Do Better" drew roughly eight in ten responses urging elimination of the housing.
To move forward, the Douglas Park project requires Council approval for a lengthy list of items separate from the Planning Commission's certification of the EIR. Councilmembers could vote to approve the items and give the project the go-ahead on December 14...or take testimony and vote on the items at a subsequent meeting.
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Previous related coverage:
Douglas Park Council Hearing Rescheduled For Dec. 14, Will Include EIR Appeal And City Staff Discussion Of Land Use Issues
Douglas Park Council Hearing Postponed At Boeing Realty's Request To Respond To FAA Inquiry Re Project's Compatibility With Airport
City Att'y Office Plans To Confer With FAA Over Agency's Contention That Douglas Park's Proposed 1,400 Housing Units Is Incompatible Land Use; City Staff Backs Project, Says It Meets Legal Req'ts.
High Ranking FAA Official Calls Housing @ Douglas Park Incompatible With Airport Uses
Planning Comm'n OK's Douglas Park Project, Sends It To Council