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Among those testifying:
- The Long Beach Council of the PTA reiterated its call (first made at the October 14 City Council meeting in discussion of a separate report on Airport effects requested by the Council in May '02 and still not provided) for inclusion of a health impact study. Some excerpts from a letter submitted for inclusion in the record:
The Long Beach Council PTA members are greatly concerned about the growing and insufficiently managed pollution generated by industry and transportation in general and by the Long Beach airport in particular.
We are convinced that the environmental impact report currently under way, first and foremost, must include a health impact study...
...In additional to physiological health risks, the scope of the current EIR must include an assessment of the increased stress and anxiety level in children as a result of pollution related ailments, as well as the impact of high noise levels on their ability to learn. A number of our Long Beach schools, whose PTAs we represent, have reported noise levels so great that instruction must be stopped when a plane flies overhead. In addition, parents report that their children's sleeping patterns are disrupted by excessive airplane noise.
Moreover, any environmental impact study must be based on the most current scientific information, as well as the most recent, actually measured, noise levels. The latest EIR of the airport, conducted in 1995, did not recognize diesel emissions as a regulated, toxic substance...
Mr. Mebust said City Hall had filed a document [in Dec. 2002] claiming exemption from environmental review for its main runway 30/12 rehab project which didn't mention diverting flights onto runway 25R [a decision publicly announced in Aug-Sept. 2003]. He noted that the current EIR being done for permanent expanded facilities resulted after public outcry over a similarly stealthful use of a CEQA exemption to permit the current "temporary" expanded facilities without public discussion of the impacts.
"The city's conduct to date has been despicable in this," Mr. Mebust said. As previously reported by LBReport.com, on Sept. 23, 2003 Mr. Mebust testified at the LB City Council that he considered use of runway 25R by large jets unsafe and described its major impacts. LB Airport Manager Chris Kunze replied that runway 25R meets federal safety standards and is approved as an alternate runway.
The Council went on to approve the resurfacing plan 6-2 (Uranga & Webb dissenting, Lerch absent) with the diversions...which will send approaching large jets over a large chunk of the 5th Council district (aligned about a block or two north of Wardlow Rd. from roughly El Dorado Park west to the Airport) with takeoffs skimming rooftops in the 7th and 8th Council districts through Cal Hts. and southern Los Cerritos. This will take place for seven to eight weeks of scheduled Saturdays, plus a year of possible unscheduled flights between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Airport management is working to avoid the unscheduled flights.
Mebust, a Cal. Hts. resident, is so concerned about large jet use of 25R that he is building a web site -- www.chnojets.com (Cal Hts. no jets) -- devoted exclusively to the subject.
After urging that the EIR include the impacts of diversions onto shorter runway 25R, Mr. Mebust declared he was putting his "money where his mouth is"...and handed a $500 check to LBHUSH2.
"I hose my patio furniture off every couple of days...Our kids are breathing this pollution. We're maxed out already with noise and pollution [applause] and at nighttime we cannot get a decent night's sleep...We just cannot allow this expansion. I'm scared and I'm tired of this situation and we've got to cut back this airport, not enlarge it. [loud cheers and applause].
"I don't think we need another layer of political difficulty," Ms. Gabelich said to applause, adding, "It creates and expands the delay tactics, and we need to have action now and we need to be able to go on with our lives and know that we're protected and our concerns are being addressed."
Councilman Carroll, who faces reelection in April 2004, took notes during the proceeding and watched without comment as his proposal (which he has agendized for the Oct. 21 Council meeting) produced some audible displeasure in the crowd.
Councilman Carroll stated in an Oct. 11 publicly distributed letter addressed to Los Altos residents that "the number of flights at our airport is determined exclusively by our noise ordinance and measured flight noise." (LBReport.com has posted the letter in its entirety on the preceding hyperlink.)
However 4th district Council candidate and Los Altos resident Patrick O'Donnell stated:
I think we need to recognize the reason we're here tonight, and that is because the City Council has given the Airport Manager the directive maximizing the use of the Airport. That's why we're here, it's plain and simple. We don't need another committee, we just need people who have the ability to say no.
...What I want the EIR to account for is the total number of flights the facility would hold with no noise ordinance, because someday, someone's going to challenge it. When it goes away, what happens to us? If you build it, they will come. [applause]
In the past few months, we've had over a dozen calls from people saying they're worried about airport expansion...We've already listed and sold three homes for people who are worried about the Airport...
...I'm not sure how to include this in the EIR, but there are wonderful neighborhoods on both sides of the Airport with a very substantial tax base to benefit all of Long Beach. These neighborhoods need to remain strong if Long Beach is to remain the wonderful community that it's been for us for 31 years. [applause]
Also attending but not pictured: 2d district Councilman Dan Baker (with chief of staff Mark Taylor), 5th district Council administrative analyst Tim Patton and 7th district Council chief of staff Ray Pok.
City Hall is accepting further public input on the scope of the EIR via email (500 words max, no attachments) to "email@example.com" and is accepted only through the close of business Oct. 23. Comments will also be accepted in writing (esp. for lengthier materials with attachments) through close of business Oct. 22.
One resident opined, "Since ELB seems to be pitted against downtown LB and the developers down there," said one resident, "I'd like to consider the possibility of forming our own City Council, having East Long Beach secede and call it the City of East Long Beach [some applause]. It would be more likely to represent our interests...
...We should be working to eliminate the use of the Airport [applause] by an estimated 3.9 million passengers, up 300% this year, when there are only 450,000 residents or so living here. Are we to be a toxic dumping ground for airport passengers from surrounding cities? The best way to reduce the number of flights overhead is to stop bending over backwards to accommodate the persons that want to use our airspace...
Another speaker asked rhetorically, "How do you fight City Hall?" Some audience members shouted "Recall...Recall"...and received applause.
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