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Airport Advisory Comm'n 3-3 Vote Declines To Recommend Council Reconsider Its Vote Nixing Customs Facility (Int'l Flights) is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(March 18, 2017) -- On a 3-3 vote, LB's Mayor-chosen, City Council-approved Airport Advisory Commission declined to approve a motion by Commissioner Jeff Rowe that sought to have the Council reconsider its January 24 vote (8-1, Andrews dissenting) not to proceed with federal customs facility.

The vote tally was 3-3 as follows: Yes: Rowe, Scott, Mineghino; No: Anderson, Chaney, Gosling; Absent: Cruz; Self-Recused: Sherman; One Seat Vacant (formerly Ray, who resigned six days earlier.)

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In presenting his motion, Commissioner Rowe said that a few days before the Council's Jan. 24 vote, he spoke briefly with his Councilman, Vice Mayor Rex Richardson, to urge him to support the customs facility. Rowe said Richardson told him that "It's been a steady 6-3 vote [in favor of the customs facility], we're looking good." Instead, after a large turnout of residents in opposition to a customs facility, organized in mainly by Neighborhoods First and LBHUSH2, the Council voted 8-1 (with Richardson joining the majority) not to pursue the customs facility (with Andrews dissenting.)

Commissioner Rowe said the next day, he phoned Vice Mayor Richardson's office and its staff told him that they'd been "absolutely inundated" with emails and phone calls saying if Richardson voted for this, "candidates would be found to run against you." Rowe said that to him "this doesn't seem the way a democracy runs well" so he called "another Councilmember" that he "knew to be a solid 'yes' vote" who told him the same thing [as Richardson's staff.]



Commissioner Mineghino spoke in support of Rowe's motion, but Commissioners Gosling, Anderson and Chaney variously indicated that they felt making a recommendation to the Council after it had already voted 8-1 was no longer timely and declined to support Rowe's motion.

Speakers in opposition included Joe Sopo of Neighborhoods First, Rae Gabelich of LBHUSH2, 3rd dist. resident Laurie Smith and a few other residents. No reps or employees from JetBlue spoke; one resident spoke in support as well as veteran LB Airport-area business operator (Airserv-LGB president) Kevin McAchren.

When the vote was called, Rowe's motion failed on a 3-3 vote.


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Commissioner Rowe was part of a subcommittee (of three Commission members) who volunteered last year to help draft the Commission's Annual Report to the City Council. Its draft text, agendized for discussion at the Nov. 17 Airport Advisory Commission meeting, included a recommendation that the Council approve a customs facility, along with the following text: "Opposition to the FIS comes from a group of called HUSH2, about 50 residents who oppose the station because they fear it somehow will lead to the unraveling of the noise ordinance which governs the number of departures at the airport..."

That text drew fire from retired Councilwoman Rae Gabelich who pushed-back on the claim about LBHUSH2 and opposed the recommendation. When various Commission members cited other reasons not to approve the draft Annual Report text as submitted, Commissioner Rowe suggested lifting just the part of the draft text that recommended Council approval of the customs facility, but found himself stymied by the Brown (open meetings) Act because support for the customs facility wasn't publicly agendized for the meeting.



At the Commission's February 16 meeting (roughly three weeks after the Council had voted against pursuing the customs facility, Commissioner Rowe made a non-agendized motion (legally allowable under the Brown Act to discuss and schedule future items) to place an item on the Commission's March agenda to recommend that the Council reconsider the customs facility. His February motion carried on the following vote: Yes: Rowe, Scott, Anderson, Mineghino; No: Cruz; Abstain: Chaney; Self-Recusal: Sherman, Ray; Absent: Gosling. That action brought the item to the March Commission meeting where it failed passage.


Meanwhile, as previously reported by, in mid-February some persons or entities (still unknown to us) used a professional firm to conduct a telephone survey of resident attitudes and potential campaign messages for a possible ballot measure that could require the City to allow the customs facility. The nature and extent of the questions indicates the effort was more than an "opinion poll" and was more consistent with a strategy used to test attitudes and messages in mounting a political campaign for a ballot measure.

On the evening of Feb. 16, residents in parts of LB's 8th and 5th Council districts received calls from a firm asking roughly 10-15 minutes of questions focused on recipients' views of incumbent city officials, various special interest groups, and reactions to various messages related to a potential ballot measure...and specifically asked if they'd favor such a measure.

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