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Group of Non-LB Southland Congressmembers Urge Bush Admin. Support For "Regional Airport Approach" That "Fairly Allocates Benefits and Burdens" Across So. Cal

Read their "Statement of Principles," posted verbatim below; L.A. County Supervisor Knabe Joins Capitol Hill News Conference In Support


(May 8, 2001) -- A group of non-LB southland Congressmembers, including those opposed to LAX expansion who seek to send flights elsewhere, have held a Capitol Hill news conference to announce a joint letter to Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta (posted verbatim below) urging support for a regional airport approach based a "Statement of Principles" (posted verbatim below) that "fairly allocates the benefits of air transportation across the region."

The Congressmembers were joined at a Capitol Hill news conference by L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe and three of his fellow members of the Board of Supervisors.

The congressmemers' self-adopted Statement of Principles urges more operations "at airports with under-utilized capacity in communities that are eager for the economic benefits of airport expansion and increased pasenger and cargo activity. Near-term priorities should include facilitating the development of infrastructure and services needed to attract more passenger and cargo traffic at airports in Ontario, Palmdale, Victorville, and other airports in the Inland Empire, High Desert and elsewhere."

It adds that "Conversely...other communities have serious concerns about the impact airports and air traffic can have on quality of life, especially at airports that are approaching or already exceed the capacity of their facilities. To the extent possible within the context of a plan that fairly allocates the benefits and burdens of air transportation across the region, growth should not be forced on overburdened airports located in communities that do not want growth."

Neither the group's letter, nor its Statement of Principles explicitly mention LB airport. The group vowed to "use the means at our disposal as Members of Congress" to facilitate this process, including seeking appropriate funding and expressing their concerns to federal agencies such as the FAA and Dept. of Transportation.

At the May 3 press conference, L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe said, "We are not trying to limit the air traffic that comes into the region. We are asking for an equitable distribution of air traffic."

Supervisor Knabe, who represents much of southeast L.A. County, the South Bay and LB, referred to prior conversations with Secretary Mineta and FAA Director Jane Garvey and alluded to incentives, such as reduced landing fees and infrastructure improvements, as ways of encouraging airline companies to boost their service levels to outlying airports.

Also attending the news conference were L.A. County Supervisors Gloria Molina, Yvonne Brathwaite Burke and Zev Yaroslavsky and Congressmembers Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands), Dana Rohrbacher (R-Huntington Beach), Adam Schiff (D-Pasadena) and Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles).

As separately reported on LBReport.com, in recent weeks, LB City Hall staff has claimed LB Airport could handle 3 million annual passengers per year (nearly five times the number actually handled in 2000) while adhering to LB noise and flight limits, (LBReport.com coverage at: City Hall asserts LGB could handle 3 million passengers per year.)

As previously reported on LBReport.com, in March one of LB's representatives to the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), Councilman Ray Grabinski, voted as a SCAG Committee member to advance for final SCAG approval a regional airport plan that includes the assumption LB Airport under current flight and noise limits could handle 3 million annual passengers per year by 2025.

Grabinski and LB's other SCAG representative, Councilman Rob Webb, then failed to attend SCAG's April meeting at which the area's major Regional Transportation Plan (including the airport plan) was adopted. (LBReport.com coverage at: SCAG vote.)

The Congressmembers' "Statement of Principles" and "Letter to Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta" follow:

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA REGIONAL AIRPORT
CONGRESSIONAL WORKING GROUP

A STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES

Commerce fostered by Southern Californiaís air transportation network is an underpinning of Californiaís economic vitality. To sustain that vitality, Southern California needs to make optimal use of new and existing airport capacity in the region. Regional demand will grow to an estimated 150 million passengers and more than 8 million tons of cargo by the year 2020. Southern California is also a critical link in the nation-wide aviation network and must contribute to relieving nation-wide aviation congestion.

As Members of Congress representing constituents across Southern California, we recognize that cities, counties, regional planning agencies have expressed support for a regional air transportation plan. We are committed to working with state, local and regional bodies to develop and implement a plan to meet air transportation demand in our region based on the following principles:

1. Airport planning decisions should be made through a process that builds consensus across the region. The result of that process should be a plan that fairly allocates the benefits and burdens of air transportation across the region.

2. A regional plan should encourage, give priority to and plan for increases in operations at airports with under-utilized capacity in communities that are eager for the economic benefits of airport expansion and increased passenger and cargo activity. Near-term priorities should include facilitating the development of infrastructure and services needed to attract more passenger and cargo traffic at airports in Ontario, Palmdale, Victorville, and other airports in the Inland Empire, High Desert and elsewhere.

3. Conversely, planning decisions should recognize that other communities have serious concerns about the impact airports and air traffic can have on quality of life, especially at airports that are approaching or already exceed the capacity of their facilities. To the extent possible within the context of a plan that fairly allocates the benefits and burdens of air transportation across the region, growth should not be forced on overburdened airports located in communities that do not want growth.

4. Planning should include cost-effective investment in ground transportation infrastructure that facilitates effective use of all the regionís airport resources.

The hard work of shaping this plan and the consensus around it must begin now and be completed as expeditiously as possible. We will use the means at our disposal as Members of Congress to facilitate this process, including: seeking appropriate funding, communicating our position to other Members of Congress and the relevant Committees of Congress, and expressing our concerns to Federal entities with jurisdiction over airport and aviation issues such as the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation.


May 3, 2001

The Hon. Norman Y. Mineta
Secretary of Transportation
Department of Transportation
401 Seventh St., S.W.
Washington, D.C., 20590

Dear Secretary Mineta,

As you know, Southern California faces important and difficult decisions that will impact the future of air transportation infrastructure. Like you, we strongly believe that we need to meet the growing demand for passenger and cargo facilities.

At the same time, we recognize that some communities already bear a disproportionate share of the regionís air traffic, while others are eager for the economic benefits of development at their local airports. Indeed, many of the regionís communities, cities, counties, and regional planning agencies have expressed their support for an approach that fairly shares the benefits and the burdens of air transportation across the region.

As Members of Congress who represent these communities, cities and counties, we are writing you to express our support for a regional approach to meeting Southern Californiaís air transportation needs. The attached statement expresses the principles which we believe should shape the planning and development air transportation infrastructure.

We ask your consideration of these principles as we address the transportation needs of our region and nation.

Regards,

Jane Harman (D-Redondo Beach)
Buck McKeon (R-Santa Clarita)
Joe Baca (D-San Bernardino)
Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles)
Howard Berman (D-Mission Hills)
Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands)
Dana Rohrbacher (R-Huntington Beach)
Adam Schiff (D-Pasadena)
Brad Sherman (D-Thousand Oaks)
Hilda Solis (D-El Monte)
Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles)
Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles).


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