(August 6, 2003) -- Because we support the right of LB families to protect their homes, their investments, their safety, their neighborhood and quality of life, we respect Lakewood Village and Lakewood Country Club area residents concerned about what happens on the Boeing property at Lakewood Blvd. and Carson St.
For the very reasons homeowners state -- safety, security, noise, traffic -- we urge them to avoid unintentionally driving into a train wreck.
City Hall has incrementally and often stealthfully sought to expand Airport flights and facilities. We believe City Hall wants to avoid having anything on that site that could conflict with possible future Airport expansion. And we do not want Airport expansion.
We do not advocate supporting Boeing's plan simply because it might block Airport expansion. We believe PacifiCenter deserves to be judged on its merits. But we believe it would be foolhardy to choke Boeing's plan to the point it becomes infeasible...which could invite City Hall (without Boeing's consent) to try to put the Boeing property (and surrounding areas without residents' consent) into a Redevelopment area, a potentially catastrophic result.
As LBReport.com has previously reported, City Hall has publicly said the Boeing property west of Lakewood Blvd was considered as a possible candidate for inclusion in a Redevelopment area. Fortunately, City Hall can't legally do that as long as Boeing pursues its plan to develop the property itself. A privately funded, market driven PacifiCenter plan means the area isn't "blighted," which is the legal prerequisite needed to trigger a City Hall Redevelopment syndrome.
The Redevelopment danger should be obvious: Although City Hall is nearly broke, it could use Redevelopment debt to build anything from (take your speculated pick) an expanded Airport terminal, parking structures, carrier facilities or airport related facilities on the site.
If PacifiCenter is nibbled to death and becomes economically infeasible to Boeing, we are concerned it could invite a Redevelopment syndrome, giving City Hall the ability to divert property tax revenue to prop up blighted LB Redevelopment areas like downtown.
The decision on what is built would no longer be market driven as it is now (Boeing hasn't sought public money to build PacifiCenter). In contrast, City Hall would decree what is done...and a non-elected Redevelopment Agency Board could use subsidies, debt and potentially eminent domain to do as it pleases.
So...what is the plan of those objecting to housing at PacifiCenter to protect homeowners from this catastrophic outcome? If leaders of the opposition don't disclose this risk, and have some plan to protect residents from it, we say homeowners should be very concerned.
As of 1 p.m. on August 6, six hours before a Lakewood Village area meeting on the subject, we found no mention of this on a web site put up by some opposition group calling itself "Citizens for Better Planning." We'll be interested in hearing what they do tonight.
Councilwoman Kell can provide no real protection on this because she can be outvoted by a majority of her Council colleagues. We like Jackie Kell, but in our opinion her own record on the airport has been awful.
On May 14, 2002 -- yes, 2002 -- Kell co-agendized an item requesting a report from the City Manager and City Attorney "relating to environmental issues (E.I.R.) pertaining to the Long Beach Airport. This report should include an analysis of the environmental effects of 41 flights and possible economic impact upon adjoining property values." Kell and the Council voted for this 9-0...and over a year later, that report still hasn't been delivered.
Kell made the motion for the infamous, steathful May 2001 vote that recklessly and needlessly facilitated filling LB Airport's vacant flight slots (not required by the FAA or any court), brought us noise, pollution and traffic impacts and put our flight limits at risk from future FAA action.
She voted to expand "temporary" Airport facilities that increased passenger capacity for carrier convenience. She voted to expand parking for airport employees eastward to Clark Ave. bordering homes. She agendized a misleading item that camouflaged a corporate funded JetBlue funded "survey" and turned the City Council chamber into a clumsy infomercial.
Kell has failed to alert her constituents, or seek their opinions, regarding plans now proceeding (as reported by LBReport.com) to store 200,000 gallons of jet fuel in four above-ground 50,000 gallon tanks to be built west of Lakewood Blvd. between Conant St. and Wardlow Rd. near the taxiway to runway 25R. The tanks would further increase LB Airport's fuel capacity.
The smartest way for homeowners to protect their interests -- in this and other major developments citywide -- is with a ballot measure giving the public the power to approve major growth and neighborhood impacting land use projects. That would include PacifiCenter, the Port, the beach and parks and projects anywhere with significant impacts. That would avoid entrusting our homes and neighborhoods to unenforceable political promises.
We believe this should be the subject of Lakewood Village's next meeting...and meetings across the city.