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    Mayor-Elect Foster On Pending Airport Terminal-Area Expansion EIR: We Post His Comments

    (June 17, 2006) -- Responding to an on-the-spot request from us, Mayor-elect Bob Foster commented at some length today (June 17) regarding the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on expanding LB Airport's permanent terminal area facilities which was the subject of a City Council appeal hearing that opened on June 13 and will continue on June 20.

    The Mayor-elect commented after taking part (with wife Nancy) in a monthly beach clean-up event (separate coverage coming). His words are extemporaneous, offered on the beach without notes:

    Mayor-elect Foster: OK, I'm not quite sure what you want to know but... 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 reiterated that he believes the Council is 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."

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