(Oct. 20, 2003) -- A week after calling signs by supporters of the grassroots Airport watchdog group LBHUSH2 ("Say NO to Airport Expansion") an example of "more heat than light," 4th district Councilman Dennis Carroll has proposed creating a second City Hall Airport "advisory" group -- with members chosen by Councilmembers and the Mayor -- that would report to an existing City Hall created Airport advisory group with members approved by Councilmembers and the Mayor -- to "address the issues surrounding the permanent construction project proposed at the Long Beach Airport and its Environmental Impact Report."
LBHUSH2, which is independent of City Hall and has been actively participating in the Airport EIR process, blasted the move. LBHUSH2 president Rae Gabelich called Carroll's proposal "another diversion to dilute and delay the study on human health and economic impact from airport growth that he and fellow Councilmembers requested May 14, 2002."
And Stearns Park Neigbborhood Association president Traci Wilson-Kleekamp, an LBHUSH2 supporter, told LBReport.com, "It's another way for the Council to avoid accountability."
The "permanent construction project" (as Carroll called it in his agendizing memo) is a City Hall management-desired permanent expansion of LB Airport's Airport terminal facilities to handle roughly 3.8 million passengers per year, which city officials say equates to 66 commercial flights per day allowed under LB's Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance (41 large aircraft over 75,000 pounds plus 25 commuter flights under 75,000 pounds).
Councilman Carroll referred to the project at the Oct. 14 Council meeting as "facilities enhancements." City management denies it is conducting Airport expansion and calls the project "terminal area improvements."
LBHUSH2, which has been critical of a number of City Hall Airport policies, says increasing the size of the Airport's permanent terminal facilities will invite more flights. The group notes that LB's Airport's current facilities, designed for roughly 15 daily flights, now handle roughly 40 by operating at nearly three times capacity augmented by temporary facilities.
For his part, Councilman Carroll said in an Oct. 11 letter to Los Altos residents made publicly available at City Hall's Oct. 11 EIR scoping meeting that "the number of flights at our airport is determined exclusively by our noise ordinance and measured flight noise."
Carroll's Oct. 14 swipe at LBHUSH2 came when the group's supporters came to the Council meeting to support an item by Councilman Rob Webb following-up on a requested report on the effects of LB Airport on LB residents. The Airport report had been jointly requested in May 2002 by Councilman Carroll, Vice Mayor Colonna and Councilmembers Kell and Webb...but has still not been delivered. In May 2002 Councilman Carroll delivered remarks (posted verbatim on LBReport.com) supporting such a report...and the Council requested it on a 9-0 vote.
But in August 2002, Carroll publicly volunteered that he had asked that the report be put "on hold" until then-pending FAA negotiations were concluded. There were no Council objections to this. The FAA negotiations ended in late April 2003. For months, LBHUSH2 has urged agendizing an item regarding the overdue report...and Councilman Webb did so for the Oct. 14, 2003 Council meeting.
Councilman Webb's item came up after 10:00 p.m...at which time city management distributed a memo indicating it had no report. Mayor O'Neill then combined Webb's item with two other airport items, reducing public input to a third of normal on each item...and put Councilman Webb's item last among the three.
LBHUSH2 supporters attending the meeting displayed their orange "Say NO To Airport Expansion" signs, periodically lifting them to put them in clear view of Councilmembers.
In the course of commenting on Councilman Webb's item (posted at length by LBReport.com), Councilman Carroll stated in part:
Subject: AGENDA ITEM: Creation of a Blue Ribbon Citizensí Airport Committee
I am proposing that the City Council authorize the creation of a Blue Ribbon Citizensí Airport Committee to address the issues surrounding the permanent construction project proposed at the Long Beach Airport and its Environmental Impact Report.
This proposal is based upon the concerns expressed by citizens at the E.I.R. scoping sessions and City Council meetings, the acknowledged complexity of the issues involved, and the importance of all stakeholders having access to and participating in the decision-making process.
The Blue Ribbon Committee would conduct open meetings and consider: the documents presented to and created during the E.I.R. scoping sessions; additional comment from citizens and citizensí groups; testimony of knowledgeable experts in relevant areas; briefings by FAA, TSA, and other agencies; any additional information as deemed necessary by the Committee.
The Committee could also consider issues pertaining to the health, safety, economics, and legal issues as they may relate to the proposed project and the
operations of the Airport.
The Committee would prepare and provide its report to the Airport Advisory Commission for their consideration and subsequent recommendation to the City Council.
I propose that the Committee be staffed and supported by appropriate City personnel, together with a professional business facilitator. Costs associated with the operation of the Committee would be borne by the Airport Enterprise Fund.
I further propose that each Councilmember appoint two distinguished members of their respective districts and that the Mayor appoint three at-large members.