Re LGB, Where Is That Report?
(June 15, 2003) -- If 4th district incumbent Dennis Carroll isn't too busy playing prosecutor without portfolio on the Airport, perhaps he'll be good enough to do his job as a Councilman...and deliver an Airport item he told the public he hoped to deliver "within 30 to 45 days" of his publicly voted action in May, 2002 -- yes, 2002.
At the City Council's May 14, 2002 meeting, Councilmembers voted 9-0 for three Airport items, jointly agendized by Councilmembers Jackie Kell, Rob Webb, Dennis Carroll and (now Vice Mayor) Frank Colonna.
Two were simple resolutions restating City Council support for LB's Airport Noise Compatibility ordinance (41 comm'l + 25 commuter noise budgeted flights/day).
The third was agendized as follows: "Report Regarding LB Airport E.I.R. Request report from 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."
Councilman Carroll presented the request for the report, and he was followed by several other Councilmembers. We post their salient words below.
In delivering his request for the report, Councilman Carroll said:
"I would like to hear from the City Manager and Mr. Shannon, and I would hope within 30 to 45 days, their opinions with respect to that issue [doing a full EIR], and perhaps include some of these items that we have discussed that may not be directly involved in an Environmental Impact Report, that is the economic dimensions of this problem, and perhaps some of the health issues that could be studied, bring in studies from other cities."
30 days have passed. 45 days have passed. 365 days and more have passed.
Where is that report?
In July 2002, we asked that question editorially. In August 2002, Councilman Carroll was kind enough to enlighten the entire city: he had taken it upon himself to intercede with then-City Manager Henry Taboada to hold off for the moment:
At the August 14, 2002 Council meeting, Councilman Carroll said:
"...I have requested that those items that I was anticipating would be brought forward earlier actually be held sort of in a holding pattern. I do not want to disrupt those negotiations [then-ongoing with the FAA]. I have the sense they are moving forward in a way that is constructive and positive and, if we can bring them in in a manner that we hope, everybody will be pleased with...I hope we all appreciate we're moving toward the same objective, and I would hope that those possibilities are more imminent than they may have been and in the next two or three or four weeks we hope to know whether they are successful or not..."
For any Councilmember to presume to stop a publicly voted action by the other elected members of the City Council is frightening...but if there ever were a basis for such an arrogation of power, that has now ended by Carroll's own stated standards: the negotiations he cited have ended. LB has received the FAA letter (which Carroll has elsewhere portrayed as a great victory).
So...where is that report?
Here's what Councilman Carroll told the public in requesting it on May 14. 2002:
...One of the critical issues is the location of the airport. Unfortunately, it happens to be in the middle of our city. I do not know how many other cities find themselves in this circumstance but there are neighborhoods that have grown up and developed, and Los Altos is the one I will be speaking on behalf of tonight, that are inordinately impacted.
The problem with an airport from the perspective of the person representing Los Altos is the benefits, to the extent they exist, are widely dispersed throughout the city and principally those are benefits of convenience for our citizens who can take planes in and out of Long Beach as well as the economic dimensions of it, but the burdens are borne by a select few, those immediately under the flight path, either coming in or going out.
It is my belief that those burdens can become so substantial that not only the health of our citizens there can be compromised, but ultimately the economic base which supports those two communities, that is Los Altos and we'll here about Cal Heights from Councilman Webb, can become blighted. That is, the burden can become such that people who have the ability to move, and those people do, will, blight is not something that could be contained and it will spread if it happened, and I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that from happening, not only through Los Altos but up into the 5th district, down into the 3d district.
And it is my hope that this process will begin to educate our citizens that everyone has a stake in this issue. It is a fight that we need to no more move away from but need to actively move into...
[Councilman Carroll discusses Federal Court of Appeal ruling on LB Airport, citing part of the Appeal Court's opinion]...a local airport should be allowed, the court concluded, to enact noise ordinances if it has a rational belief that, number one, the ordinance will reduce the possibility of liability, that is the citizens suing the city because of excessive noise, or enhanced quality of the city's human environment.
And that is the dimension that I would like to explore tonight, and my request by way of this agenda item, concerns itself.
It is my belief that limiting this discussion to noise does a great disservice to the human dimensions of this issue. We know that noise is an important dimension of it but other aspects of it may be at least as important if not more important.
Not the least of which is the nature of the particulates that are spewed out into the atmosphere by the jet fuel. The soot that my neighbors will tell you they hose off their patio furniture in the backyard and their cars and kills their lemon trees. The items, and believe it or not ice even occasionally will fall off a jet plane.
The economic impact, which is argued and used as a justification for our city's airport, I'm sure there are economic benefits, from my perspective has not put into the equation the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods in terms of its effect on property values, on the health of the people that live there, on the safety of the children, and I have two schools in the fourth district, each of them have between 700 and a 1,000 children. Those planes fly over and you can count the rivets when they go over. Class stops when the planes go over. And parents have to make decisions about whether they want to keep their children in those schools when our flights are programmed to increase from 15 up to 41. Do they want to remodel their homes, or get out while the getting's good?
These economic and basic fundamental life decisions that all families have to make are under a terrific cloud at this time. And I urge that we do several things...With respect to my part of it, I'm asking for a preliminary report. I'm not asking for an Environmental Impact Report yet. This is the first step. That preliminary report would address several things.
Number one: with respect to a full on Environmental Impact Report, what is the cost of it? The last time we did one on our airport case it was $500,000. We have an update from 1997 that is very helpful to us but doesn't contain everything that I think is germane and relevant to this conversation.
Number two, how long would it take to prepare one?
Number three, who are the persons who are most qualified, who are expert in providing that information to us?
I would like to hear from the City Manager and Mr. Shannon, and I would hope within 30 to 45 days, their opinions with respect to that issue, and perhaps include some of these items that we have discussed that may not be directly involved in an Environmental Impact Report, that is the economic dimensions of this problem, and perhaps some of the health issues that could be studied, bring in studies from other cities.
So my request at this time is to get this preliminary report, to put everyone no notice that we are taking an aggressive, proactive stance here. We are not simply going to sit and hope for the best. There's no reason we should.
We have what I judge to be strong, equitable arguments to not only preserve our current noise ordinance but to bring within that current ordinance as suggested by the court [of appeal] that final paragraph with respect to enhancing the quality of the city's human environment.
What I would like to see, and what the law has not fully cognized at this point is a Human Impact Report, and that's what we're really dealing with here...We are working night and day on this issue and will continue to do so until it's resolved on human terms.
So...where is that report?
8th district Councilman Rob Webb said, "[T]here have been a lot of studies that the AQMD has done, studies about Multiple Airborne Toxic Exposure, that was not brought up in the original EIR...I think it's good that these items are being addressed..."
3d district Councilman (now Vice Mayor) Frank Colonna stressed, "I think it's important as Councilmember Carroll pointed out that we deal not only with the noise issues but also the other factors that come into play when you deal with a significant amount of airline traffic that's coming into a community."
2d district Councilman Dan Baker said, "[T]he 2d district isn't really impacted by the airport, but we have a very similar issue with noise and pollution and the many health risks coming from our Port. That's something that my residents in the downtown area and those on the west side of the city have been dealing with for a number of years, and they really are very similar issues. So I appreciate Councilmember Carroll and the rest of them looking for the information on what really is the result of that airport, what's happening to our residents."
So...where is that report?
If Councilmembers Carroll and Webb do not deliver it publicly by August 1 (roughly more 45 days), we urge voters in their districts to find new Councilmembers in the coming 2004 elections.
If Councilwoman Kell does not deliver it publicly by August 1 (she voted for it too), we recommend her constituents begin the process of recalling her.
And from the words above, it's clear that what the Council led the public to believe would be delivered wasn't an EIR for expanded Airport facilities that happens to throw in some of these issues.
If any incumbent tries to confuse you by claiming an Airport facilities expansion EIR can substitute for the separate, broader Council report you just read about, resolve to vote against that incumbent at the first opportunity.
Finally, we urge LBHUSH2 to begin preparing its own report on the subjects publicly sought by the City Council. This is essential, because if City Hall doesn't deliver, or makes endless excuses or delivers steer manure, the public will at least be assured of the facts from one source.