Date: May 20, 2002
To: Honorable Mayor and Councilmembers
From: Councilmember Frank Colonna, Third District
Subject: Washington Advocacy Report
As you know, I was in Washington, D.C. last week to discuss a number of critical City issues. The initial purpose for this trip centered on discussions related to the Los Cerritos Wetlands and the Army Corps of Engineers. However, as events in the City shifted, the trip evolved, and additional meetings and participants were added to make the most productive use of our time in D.C.
As many of you know, I have made the acquisition and restoration of the Los Cerritos Wetlands a priority during my time in office, and we are making real progress towards transforming this site into an eco-tourism destination. I know that enhanced open space is a priority for the City, and the Wetlands will go a long way towards meeting this goal. We are currently working with the Corps to administer a $1 million feasibility study on the wetlands, with the potential for additional federal funding pending the results of this study.
Additionally, we had valuable meetings with FEMA, the Department of Justice, Ruben Barrales (Assistant to the President, Government Affairs), and Governor Gray Davisí Washington Office. In these meetings, we emphasized our need for federal funding to enhance our waterborne security and hazardous material mitigation measures, explaining that, from a terrorism preparedness perspective, we have a "target rich" environment with our Ports, ACTA, the 710 Freeway, etc. We shared a detailed list of requests, including patrol boats, search and rescue vehicles, and a HAZMAT unit for our Fire Department, and asked what the federal funding stream and criteria would likely be. It was clear that the bulk of all funding will be distributed through the Office of Governor Gray Davis, and specifically through the State Office of Emergency Services.
Per this City Councilís direction, we also met with representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration to discuss our interest in maintaining our current daily limit of flight slots. I explained to them that our community has voiced almost undivided opposition to the idea of expansion, and shared with FAA copies of the City Councilís resolution, unanimously supporting this position. The fact of the matter is, we have the busiest general aviation airport in America, with an average of 1,924 takeoffs and landings per day, and this factors in the reduction in activity since 9/11.
From our perspective, this meeting was very productive. [Principal Deputy City Att'y] Mike Mais, [Public Works Dir.] Ed Shikada, and [Airport Mgr.] Chris Kunze assisted me in thoroughly articulating the issue. It was great having such capable staff present for this meeting, and I want to thank them publicly for their participation and input. It was invaluable.
FAA representatives (all eight of them) listened carefully and took copious notes, and in the end stated their general support of the clause within the Airport Noise and Capacity Act, also known as ANCA, that "grand-fathers" Long Beach in federal law at 41 slots. They stated that they are interested in balancing the communityís issues with FAA grant assurances of access to carriers. Good connections were made with the staff and administration of FAA and we look forward to working closely with them as this issue develops.
We also met with representative from our Congressional delegation to discuss our commercial flight slot status and security priorities for the City. The same points that were shared in meetings with FEMA and FAA were reiterated with our members.
Dave Bartel, Chief of Staff to Congressman Steve Horn was very supportive of our requests and sympathetic to our airport issues. Mr. Bartel reaffirmed the Congressmanís support of security funding and construction funding for the I-710 freeway. Congressman Horn has always been a strong and respected advocate for the City of Long Beach, and his leadership should always be remembered and appreciated.
Playing devilís advocate, Rick Dykema, Chief of Staff to Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, shared alternative perspectives on the airport issue, citing the size differences and noise impacts on John Wayne Airport versus those at the Long Beach Airport. He noted that our airport is larger, yet it has fewer flights and less noise impacts on residents than JWA. Informed by our recent community meetings and City Council action, we presented several compelling counterpoints for Mr. Dykemaís consideration. He also reminded us that beginning January 1, 2003, Rep. Rohrabacher will only be representing 20% of Long Beach. We reminded Mr. Dykema that within that 20% lies the Port of Long Beach, CSULB, Long Beach Towne Center, which account for some of the most vital resources to the residents in Long Beach.
Brian Robinson, Senior Legislative Assistant to Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, was very supportive of our pleas to limit the flight slots to 41 at the Long Beach Airport. He said that the Congresswoman was supportive of local control over airport issues. We look forward to having members of the Congresswomanís local staff in attendance at the next town hall, to see first hand the opinions of her constituents.
All in all, we had a very productive trip. Del Smith and R.J. Lyerly, our federal advocates, did an excellent job in constructing a productive and full itinerary. We are fortunate to have such experienced representation working on our behalf in our Nationís Capitol. This concludes my report, and Iíd be happy to answer any questions you might have.