(September 17, 2004, updated Sept. 18) -- Following a four hour meeting, a City Hall appointed "Airport Advisory Commission" -- a body with no decisionmaking power beyond making recommendations to the City Council that appointed it -- has voted to support Airport management's preferred sizing for expansion of LB Airport's permanent terminal area facilities.
The Sept. 16 vote was 6-3, with Advisory Commission members Doug Haubert, Carol Soccio and Bruce Alton dissenting.
Airport management's recommended sizing, which is larger in several respects than what City Hall initially proposed a year ago in its Notice of Preparation for the project's Environmental Impact Report (EIR), would expand LB's Airport permanent terminal area facilities from 34,570 sq. ft. to 133,243 sq. ft., amounting to over twice the Airport's current operational capacity (combined permanent plus temporary facilities) of 58,320 sq ft. A major portion of the increase is in concession space, which Airport management's proposal would increase by nearly five times from the current 5,460 sq. ft. to 25,460 sq. ft.
Parking would increase via a major new parking structure to 6,286 sq. ft. (the current parking structure is 2,831 sq. ft...with 2,104 sq. ft of parking currently in remote lots off-airport). LB Airport management says its recommendations assume replacement of the current temporary facilities and remote off-airport parking with the permanent facilities.
The Advisory Commission's vote carries no substantive weight. The group's recommendation will be forwarded to the City Council which will ultimately decide the sizing of the Airport's expanded permanent terminal area facilities. After sizing is decided, a design layout and Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will be prepared on which the public can comment before the Council decides whether to certify the EIR and proceed with the expansion.
The Advisory Commission's majority brushed aside two smaller alternatives which the body requested from Airport management in July 2004. (LBReport.com coverage, click here). However, the Advisory panel did not "pick and choose" options among the alternatives, instead endorsing Airport management's larger recommended sizes as proposed.
Airport management's preferred sizing is larger in several respects than what was described in City Hall's Sept. 2003 Notice of Preparation for the project's EIR. (LBReport.com comparison, click here.) Airport management's currently preferred sizing largely parallels recommendations by HNTB, an architectural, planning and engineering firm hired by the Airport that has designed and built other major projects nationally -- including airports elsewhere and major parts of the Alameda Corridor locally.
The Airport Advisory body delayed until Sept. 30 issuing a recommendation on the scope of issues to be included in the project's Environmental Impact Report -- which the City Council was scheduled to decide in December 2003. However, in October 2003 (with city elections looming in early 2004), the Council referred the airport terminal issue to the advisory panel, effectively delaying a Council vote until after the elections. During the delay, HNTB and Airport management developed larger recommended sizes (which reflect updated empirical data on load factors, newer aircraft capacities the like, Airport management says).
Meanwhile, Airport-impacted 4th and 8th district voters replaced their Councilmembers in April and June 2004 city elections.
The Airport Advisory panel's Sept. 16 meeting drew a crowd estimated at over 175-200 people to the Energy Dept. auditorium. A loudspeaker was set up in the lobby to accommodate the overflow crowd. Those attending included LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill, City Manager Jerry Miller and businessman Chris Pook.
Among those speaking was Lou Anne Bynum, chair of the LB Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. LBReport.com has posted Ms. Bynum's testimony in full as prepared for delivery and provided to us by the Chamber. To view it, click here.
Also speaking was Steve Goodling, President and CEO of the LB Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Those present included Councilmembers Patrick O'Donnell and Rae Gabelich (elected in April and June, respectively, to replace the now-former 4th and 8th district incumbents).
The nine-member Mayor-chosen, Council-approved "Airport Advisory Commission" currently includes current and inactive private pilots, individuals with aviation or travel related ties, a Los Altos and a Cal Hts. resident...and an 8th Council district resident active in LBHUSH2, a grassroots group opposed to Airport expansion.
LB Airport's current mix of permanent and temporary facilities handles 41 daily large aircraft commercial flights, some say with passenger inconvenience. JetBlue, which helped facilitate construction of what were then called modular temporary buildings, has more recently described them as "trailers" and cited passenger inconvenience as a reason to replace them.
LB Airport also currently has 25 vacant regional (less than 75,000 pound) daily aircraft flight slots that are legally allowed but not currently filled or operating.
As separately reported by LBReport.com, an Airport area residential real estate value analysis is currently being performed under the oversight of City Hall's Community Development Department for October release. A LB Airport "Economic Impact Analysis" is being conducted by CSULB under the auspices of City Hall's Community Development Department with completion expected in November.