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    News In Depth/Perspective

    Add'l Facts Re Chronology Preceding Scheduling Of July 11 Airport Item


    (July 8, 2006, 5:50 a.m.) -- LBReport.com has managed to piece together additional facts pertinent to what took place on July 7 regarding the agendizing of an Airport-related item for the July 11 City Council meeting. We post them here at dawn on July 8.

    By way of background, on Friday morning July 7, LBReport.com posted an editorial opining that we believe Councilmembers (Reyes Uranga, B. Lowenthal, Lerch) have made themselves vulnerable to recall on several taxpayer/homeowner grounds (ranging from a "golden handshake" for the Mayor to certifying the Airport terminal EIR).

    A few hours later, LBReport.com learned and reported that a website announcing plans to recall Councilwoman Reyes Uranga was under construction online. In our story, we noted that the domain name had been reserved by someone (using a proxy intermediary to keep the domain registrant's identity below the radar) on June 21...one day after Councilwoman Reyes Uranga cast the crucial fifth "yes" vote to certify a management-proferred Environmental Impact Report (EIR) regarding expansion of LB Airport's permanent terminal area facilities.

    At the June 27 Council meeting [mainly dealing with swearing-in new 2d district Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal], Councilwoman Reyes Uranga declined to make a non-agendized motion to reconsider the June 20 EIR vote after City Attorney Bob Shannon said publicly that the non-agendized motion would violate the Brown Act. At that time, Councilwoman Reyes Uranga indicated publicly (and LBReport.com reported verbatim) that she planned to agendize an Airport-related item on July 11...but left details publicly unstated at that time.

    On Thursday July 6 at roughly midday, the Grunion Gazette's website posted a story by Executive Editor Harry Saltzgaver quoting Councilwoman Reyes Uranga as saying on Monday [July 3], "At first, I was looking to give the appellants another chance to have their say...I had hoped to assist with calming the concern were seeing out there. But now Im more looking to explain my vote. Id like to do what we can to clarify the issue and move on."

    A few hours later on Thursday night July 6, the City Clerk's office posted its initial agenda for the July 11 meeting online. It didn't include any Airport-related item by Councilwoman Reyes Uranga. LBReport.com reported this in an advisory on our front page but noted that the deadline for the final agenda was on Friday [items are sometimes added].

    LBReport.com has since learned that Councilwoman Reyes Uranga's office did submit an item for inclusion on the Thursday night initial agenda posting. It invited rescinding certification of the EIR...but for reasons that apparently included a mixture of Council etiquette, motion substance, or both, at about noon Thursday Councilwoman Reyes Uranga's office asked the City Clerk not to include it on the initial Thursday evening agenda posting. [This left time to agendize an item on Friday].

    On Friday July 7, after posting our acidic editorial and subsequently learning of the recall-Tonia website, we sought comment from Councilwoman Reyes Uranga's office on the website. We reached her Council office's answering machine and left a message...which Chief of Staff Pok says she didn't receive. At about the same time, we received a short email from Councilwoman Reyes Uranga expressing polite displeasure at our editorial from earlier that day...but not mentioning plans to agendize an Airport-related item.

    After holding the recall-website story for comment and hearing none [remember, the Councilwoman says she didn't get our phone message], we ran the story at about 3:10 p.m. with comment pending. About twenty minutes later, we received from Councilwoman Reyes Uranga's office the text of an Airport-related agenda item. It includes what amount to options/alternatives [full text below]. We posted the information as a FLASH advisory on our front page with an email alert, followed by a story with that included the memo text in full.

    Reyes Uranga Chief of Staff Pok tells us that the Councilwoman's office revised the Airport item's text and resubmitted it to the City Clerk for agendizing on Friday...before we posted our story on the "recall Tonia" website.

    For the record, here is the agendizing memo text from the office of 7th district Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga. The item is agendized as New Business for the July 11 City Council meeting:

    Robert's Rules of Order allows for a "Motion to Rescind" to enable an assembly to change an action previously taken or ordered if applied consistent with the Brown Act, due process, and the formal hearing requirements of CEQA. The effect of Rescind is to strike out an entire main motion that has been adopted at some previous time. A "Motion to Rescind" can be made and voted on by any member of the assembly, regardless of how they voted on the original question.

    In light of procedural and substantive issues raised regarding the Airport Terminal Improvements and subsequent adoption in concept of the Site Plan Review, I am requesting that the City Council rescind its vote in order to provide City Staff an opportunity to conduct further assessments on the Environmental Impact Report. A "Motion to Rescind" is necessary given the time limits imposed by the City's filing of the Notice of Determination, unless the City enters into a Tolling Agreement or grants an extension of the statutory time limits.

    Suggested Action(s):

    A. Approve motion to rescind the City Council vote on June 20, 2006 adopting in concept the Site Plan Review for Terminal Area Improvements and the resolution certifying the Environmental Impact Report; and if such motion is adopted, to approve a motion to repeal the resolution and set a new date for hearing of the appeal.

    B. Request the City Attorney to enter into a Tolling Agreement with appellants in order to conduct further assessments on the Airport Terminal Improvements EIR.

    C. Authorize an extension of the statutory time limits consistent with the California Environmental Quality Act to conduct further assessment on the Airport Terminal Improvements EIR.

    As previously reported by LBReport.com, on June 17 Mayor-elect Bob Foster indicated to us that he believed the EIR (following a June 13 hearing and coming to a June 20 Council decision) contained flaws. While commending the Council for tackling the hard issues, Mayor-elect Foster indicated that he favored addressing and dealing with the EIR's flaws before certifying it [verbatim text below]

    [begin June 17 text]

    LBReport.com: What should the Council do?

    Mayor-elect Foster: Well, first of all I want to give them credit. I really do. I think they're doing their due diligence. I think people get frustrated because it takes a long time but the truth is, I don't think this process has been as efficient as it should be. I think it's probably got some problems with it.

    And they're doing what you should do. This facility is going to be here for another two, three, four decades and I think that they're struggling to do the right thing. So I want to give them a lot of credit for taking the time and dealing with a very tough issue.

    The key thing for me is the EIR is a decisional document. It's a precedential document. It's what will define the parameters of the Airport for the next, as I said, two or three decades.

    The deficiency I find in it, it didn't provide the analysis of the connection between gates and aircraft parking spaces and the noise ordinance and capacity. That to me is critical. The EIR assumes the noise ordinance is going to be there. I think that if you build in capacity, excess capacity, at this Airport you acutally could threaten the noise ordinance. I wanted to see that analyzed.

    I've asked everybody I could think of about this issue, about if you have excess capacity, could we wind up being forced, either by FAA or a potential applicant to have additional flights out of Long Beach, to be able to somehow invalidate the noise ordinance. I have not got a definitive answer.

    That is crucial to me. The site plan and everything else is derived from the EIR. It's not independent of the EIR, so doing that analysis is critical.

    So I have to say, I'd say reluctantly, if it were me, I would send it back, and I would say you have to do this analysis because the noise ordinance to me is crucial. We need to keep it to protect our neighborhoods and to have a moderately sized Airport.

    I would give a specific timeline for that, a definitive timeline, and then come back and once that analysis is done then you can talk about what the appropriate size and the number of gates are.

    But until that's done, I think it's incomplete.

    Mayor-elect Foster added that he felt the Council was doing the right thing by taking the time to work-through difficult Airport EIR issues...and he underscored:

    "The principle I would follow is to make sure that the capacity of this Airport is within the City of Long Beach's control, not in FAA's, not in some court decision. It's in our control. That's the principle we need to follow here. That's the only thing that's going to preserve the noise ordinance."

    Three days later, the Council voted to certify the EIR on a 5-2 vote.


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