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    Proposal To Expand Airport Facilities Draws Standing Room Only Council Crowd; LBHUSH2 & Enviros Blast Councilmembers for Bringing More Flights

    Council Directs Environmental Review (probably via Negative Declaration) Within 120 Days For Proposed Permanent Expanded Airport Facilities

    No Councilmember Supports Moratorium On Expanded Airport Facilities...And Shouts of "Recall! Recall!" Erupt After Council OK's Temporary Expansion

  • City Atty announces settlement in principle with air carriers that could avoid litigation, pending FAA approval (see separate, coverage, click here)

    (August 29, 2002) -- Filling the City Council chamber to standing room only capacity, the newly organized grassroots group LBHUSH2 and veteran LB environmentalists urged Councilmembers to enact a moratorium on Airport facilities expansion, blasted attempts to bypass environmental review of permanent Airport expanded facilities (a project first reported by and said City Hall policies that encouraged more flights created risks to human health and property values.Council LBHUSH2 item, Aug. 27/02

    Courtesy HTTV, channel 21. The Council chamber holds 265 people.

    LBHUSH2 scored a notable victory when the Council voted 8-0 (Reyes-Uranga absent) to approve a motion by Vice Mayor Frank Colonna requiring that environmental review for proposed permanent expanded passenger holdroom be completed within 120 days and returned to the Council for a vote before any permanent expanded facilities are approved for construction at the Airport. (Environmental review could be a negative declaration finding no significant impacts).

    Councilmembers then voted 5-3 to proceed with a temporary, modular trailer expansion to be built by JetBlue and leased back to the Airport. (Yes: Lowenthal, Colonna, Kell, Richardson-Batts, Lerch; No: Baker, Carroll, Webb).

    No Councilmembers publicly supported a moratorium...and following the Council votes, shouts of "Recall! Recall!" went up from about a dozen LBHUSH2 members who had stayed late into the evening for the vote.

    We provide transcript excerpts of salient parts of the meeting, below.

    The focal point of the Council action was a city staff request that the Council approve temporary expanded passenger holdroom facilities using modular trailers to be built on a fast track by JetBlue and leased back to the Airport (where they could be used by JetBlue and others.) Two weeks ago, LBHUSH2 had urged the Council to enact a moratorium on further Airport facilities expansion pending detailed public discussion.

    In a written report to Council, city staff explained they were seeking Council approval for the temporary facility because "all 41 daily-permitted airline flights and three daily commuter flights will be operational by October 2002 [and] interim steps are necessary to provide reasonable and responsible accommodations for passenger activity during the expected peak demand hours."

    During a Q & A period for written questions, LB Public Works Director Ed Shikada provided additional information:

    "The primary impetus for the recommendation to move forward with the projects proposed is not based on a federal mandate. There is not a direct federal requirement to build additional facilities, but instead the recommendations are based on operational concerns and a desire to maintain the operational safety and convenience of the Airport for users," Mr. Shikada said.

    Proceedings on the item began with Councilmembers Carroll and Kell indicating the reasons for staff's proposed temporary expansion. They gave the floor to City Attorney Robert Shannon who delivered a surprise announcement: the city had reached a settlement in principle with air carriers that would avoid litigation over LB Airport (separately reported by City staff then followed with a one hour opening power-point presentation.

    None of this quelled public anger at LB elected officialdom for recent LB Airport developments.

    Not all speakers opposed the proposed expanded airport facilities...but most did. When the public was allowed to testify, LBHUSH2 supporters formed a long line to the podium. In well organized testimony, each speaker hit specific issues. Council LBHUSH2 item, Aug. 27/02

    Courtesy HTTV, channel 21

    Multiple speakers blasted a May, 2001 Council vote (8-1, Carroll dissenting after failing to win a delay) which changed LB city law to encourage filling 27 then vacant Airport flight slots. Within days of that vote, JetBlue took all then vacant flight slots. LB Airport has since ballooned from roughly 14 daily large commercial flights and 600,000 passengers per year to 44 daily commercial flights (41 large aircraft + 3 regional aircraft) and nearly 3 million annual passengers expected by October, 2002...with the possibility of more.

    Several speakers said Councilmembers had created the problem they were now claiming to solve, have brought LB more noise and pollution and risking diminished property values. (Property tax revenue is one of City Hall's largest revenue sources.)

    One of the more dramatic moments came when LBHUSH2 leader Rae Gabelich read an environmental checklist from City Hall's 1997 negative declaration (prepared for a smaller, never built 12,000 sq. ft. passenger holdroom expansion that was then considered sufficient for 41 flights with fewer passengers than now (today's planes are larger and fly with fewer empty seats). For each potential environmental impact -- such as traffic and pollution -- City Hall said in 1997 its smaller project had "no impact." Ms. Gabelich's repetition of the possible environmental impacts and the "no impact" responses struck like a hammer on a nail.

    By the end of the night, Councilmembers had dropped plans to use the 1997 negative declaration to justify the larger permanent Airport additions now. This was a victory for LBHUSH2, which only two weeks ago mustered only a handful of familiar activists to speak at a Council meeting. With effective organizational work and genuine public anger, LBHUSH2 managed to assemble speakers that lined the aisle to the podium.

    LB area environmentalists also turned out in force, including CA Earth Corps' Don May and ECO-link's Diana Mann, creating a potentially potent political alliance of environmental activists with mainstream homeowners, a pairing not seen in previous Airport battles.

    The Council audience was in no mood to settle for traditional explanations. 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell assured the public that the Boeing airport area property would not be used to expand the airport, but sparked audience displeasure when she said:

    "Some of you that are not happy with the number of flights that are at the Airport, at least they're the quietest flights. JetBlue has the quietest planes in the business. [displeased audience response] Just a minute, JUST A MINUTE! [displeasure continues until abated by Vice Mayor Colonna, then presiding]...One other thing that I want you to think about is we had been asked by the cargo airlines for more flights. Now, UPS, Airborne Express, we have several cargo companies, they would like more flights flying out of Long Beach. They usually have the noisier airplanes and we want you to be aware of that."

    Prior to Kell, 4th district Councilman Dennis Carroll told the crowd:

    "In furtherance of our responsibilities to provide safe and comfortable accommodations for those passengers preparing to leave and come into our airport, a plan was created to provide some expansion for the building at Long Beach Airport. That has been going on for some period of time. One dimension of it is a permanent structure...plans have been made for it and they will be discussed tonight. The other dimension of it which is more immediate is a temporary module to allow JetBlue to service the needs that they have found themselves the lucky beneficiaries of in a way and also accommodate the serious number of flight increases they are expecting next month...You will hear from the city and from those who are more knowledgeable than I what the needs are and I believe the city's presentation will provide you some numbers of comparable square feet per passenger at other airports so you'll get a sense of where the proposals here fall in terms of higher, lower, or in the middle...And I know the unspoken concern really is that there is a program of construction either underway or anticipated that will contemplate or invite substantially more numbers of flights than would otherwise be available here. And that's another reason I think it's important for us to do this in a public forum, on television, and give you all an opportunity to ask the questions that I know you do have..."

    8th district Councilman Rob Webb said:

    ...Unfortunately what has happened here, the process that we have gone through that has brought us to this point has disenfranchised a lot of, I think, our people here in the community...While I say that most reasonable people do not have a problem with comfortably accommodating 41 flights, the big concern is that we are going to be over-accommodating or overbuilding our airport to accommodate more down the road. And if we're not having good dialogue and being able to respond to questions and get responses to figures like 3.8 million people [annual passengers, predicted with 41 large + 25 regional flights] versus 2.0 million people, as I mentioned what has happened is we've got a community that's become disenfranchised and hasn't been a part of this process and so I think in efforts to fix that, and work with our neighborhoods and communicate more, we will improve and work on that...

    Just before city staff's presentation, City Attorney Robert Shannon delivered blockbuster favorable news: the city had reached a settlement in principle with air carriers that would avoid airport litigation. (For coverage, click here.)

    Under ordinary circumstances, positive news of this magnitude would have drawn applause...but it was eclipsed in the whirlwind of the Council items.

    LB Airport Manager Chris Kunze delivered a roughly one hour presentation with detailed figures on projected passenger arrivals and existing holdroom capacity. Mr. Kunze presented data indicating the enlarged passenger facilities are needed to accommodate passengers from 41 daily flights (over 75,000 pounds) plus 3 regional jets (under 75,000 pounds) that will begin arriving in October, 2002.

    He noted the proposed square footage was based on LB's current maximum allowed flights using uniform building code recommended figures and daily passenger flows.

    [Mr. Kunze's staff had provided with these figures prior to the hearing and we posted them. To view them, click here.]

    Immediately before public testimony, the chair of a City Council appointed "Airport Advisory Commission" said the non-elected body had voted unanimously to approve city staff's proposed temporary expansion...and angered the audience by adding, "[O]ur choice is no longer between not having a commercial airport and having one. It's between being substandard which we risk being in October and having a successful model for other airports to emulate." His commentary drew groans and boos.

    Mayor O'Neill, no stranger to heated audience responses, quipped with a laugh, "Ron was doing OK till that last statement."

    That was the lead-in to public testimony. Not all speakers opposed City Hall's Airport policies, although most did. We provide transcript excerpts below. They are unofficial, prepared by us; not all speakers or their statements are indicated.

  • John Deats

    ...Temporary facilities should be just that -- temporary -- not the future home, all of a sudden we discover we've got a place to put Customs and/or INS. Those facilities should be torn down before the granting of a certificate of occupancy for the permanent facilities. [applause]

    Also have an issue with the 65 CNEL [cumulative noise exposure level] footprint...It's now known that that's going to wind up in neighborhoods. It seems to me that when that 65 CNEL footprint hits neighborhoods, you're out of noise budget. You don't have room for more flights. [applause]

    But since you seem to be going there anyway, I'm going to advise homeowners to look at the footprint as it exists now, because it's got four points on it, two of which are in a line with runway 30 and it's pretty obvious where that footprint is headed, and I'm going to suggest to those people if they care about their quality of their life that they have their homes appraised not later than September 30, 2002. And the minute that their homes can be demonstrated to be inside that 65 CNEL footprint, I'm going to suggest to them not that they sue the city, not suit happy, file a claim with the city for the full value of their homes. [strong applause]

    Ron Noe

    ...First of all, I'd like to say that I support Long Beach Airport...But we must draw the line at 41/25 [41 noise budget aircraft > 75,000 pounds, 25 regional flights > 75,000 pounds]. The city has no business in actively marketing the remaining commuter slots, or the Airport for that matter, and they have no business ramrodding through a new permanent facility that is clearly designed to accommodate more than 41/25...

    ...Back in 1989, when we last had 41 flights, the holdrooms were able to not only accommodate all the passengers but also non-ticketed family and friends. In a post 9-11 environment, non-ticketed family and friends are not allowed in the holdrooms.

    Also the plans are for incoming passengers not be routed through the holdroom of the proposed permanent holdroom. Is this scenario really being honestly dealt with...?

    The city staff is guilty of rigging the process. The fact that the planning and building process has been relegated to backroom manipulation and a conscious avoidance involving the City Council is very troubling to me. The end result has been that the public has been left in the dark and the Council has been relying on advice from staff and the City Attorney, thereby essentially remaining detached from the process even though the Council knows exactly what is going on. [applause]

    Aside from valid environmental concerns, it's important to get a firm grip on economic reality. Airport expansion, whether it's 41/25 or beyond, will not create the booming economic effect that many expansionists are predicting...

    ...[T]he city should design facilities to accommodate the absolute minimum requirements of 41/25. In other words, we shouldn't build something that may end up putting us in a position of having to easily accept more flights...

    ...By mid October, we're going to have 41 commercial flights and 3 commuter flights. JetBlue wants to build yet another temporary facility that will become available by mid-December. That gives the city at least two months to analyze the capabilities of the current facilities we now have in place. What's the harm in delaying all expansion projects right now?

    Rex Ricks

    ...I'm from Huntington Beach and I tell you, when the jets cross county lines, so will the people...

    Do what you've got to do legally to accommodate 41+25, but don't add one parking space more, do not add one square foot more [applause rise], make it so you that you get a federal court order saying you have to or that the airlines foot the bill themselves if they want it...

    You've got to draw the line in the sand at 41. I want to see you have a multi-city coalition. There's lots of places affected like Seal beach, Huntington, Costa Mesa, Signal Hill, so forth...Defend your city, because if the airlines see a weak spot, they're coming after you.

    And I gotta tell you, that there's people in south Orange County working to conspire against you and screw this community...They tell you how El Toro would be the horror of horrors: noise, traffic, pollution, death, destruction, Armageddon...but they say expanding Long Beach would be a great alternative! [laughter]...The growth is coming from south County, they need to take care of their own share and not impose it on us.

    And since south County has so many Republicans, isn't part of the Republican motto self-reliance and self-sufficiency? They need to take care of their own needs and leave us alone. [applause]

    Bruce Alton

    [Refers to "Airport Advisory Commission" chair's earlier comments]. I would like to...state that four of those [9] members belong to Vice Mayor Frank Colonna's district and I find that representation a little skewed. Also, four of them are pilots. [laughter]. So 45% of our representatives are in one district and 45% of the Airport Advisory Commission are pilots. I think that does not equal representation and I would like to see some change there.

    ...We see no commitment...that these [temporary] structures will be dismantled after the permanent holdroom is in place. Given the millions of dollars spent in building them, it could be considered even a dereliction of our fiduciary responsibilities to remove them prior to the end of their useful life.

    In fact, in the last Airport Advisory Commission meeting, the Airport Manager Mr. Kunze made a comment that they could be here for ten years. I find that a little unreasonable.

    Therefore, I believe in the interest of fairness to impacted communities, Airport management and you our City Council should be candid and inform the public that we are permanently expanding the capacity of the airport far more than 41 commercial flights, or that number that the noise budget will permit...

    ..Quality of life impacts to neighbors under the conditions that we're identifying here demands that we participate fully as key stakeholders in the planning process and not be advised of the planning results and asked for comment...

    Michael Wright [sp?]

    ...In addition to being a resident of this city, I'm also a professional real estate economist and a senior vice president with a Los Angeles based consulting firm.

    Over the past 14 years, I've worked on many economic impact studies, including several which measure the economic impacts of airports. Our airport officials have publicly stated their belief that an increase in flight activity at Long Beach airport will not have detrimental effects on the neighborhoods near or under the airplane flight tracks...

    ...First, city staff has promoted a loosely defined economic benefit value of $1 million in additional city general fund revenues for each new flight added...Based on my experience, the $1 million per flight value is grossly inflated and it almost certainly counts regional benefits, only a small portion of which will be captured by the city of Long Beach.

    Because a substantial portion of the impact is also likely to be based on hoped-for revenues from tourists, what tax revenues the city does capture will be highly subject to wide annual fluctuations. In other words, this is not a consistent and reliable revenue source.

    Second, the flip side to economic benefits are economic costs. To date, this issue has been completely ignored by the city. An expansion of flight activity will impact local quality of life. This will be reflected in lost residential and commercial property values as well as declining local business base due to noise and changes in the nature of local consumers. This is a fact which is even recognized by the FAA which has commissioned several nationwide studies to develop impact measurements of airport activity on property values.

    Based on commonly used methodologies to assess noise impacts, even if flight volume does not exceed the level of 41/25, there will be significant economic consequences for those areas of the city located near the flight tracks.

    Using 2002 County Assessor's data, I have estimated that there will be a loss of $580 million to $870 million in residential and commercial property values. This translates into a property tax impact to the city of $1.2 to $1.8 million annually in foregone revenues.

    In areas experiencing high airport activity, residential neighborhoods close to the areas of highest impact often experience a gradual change in household composition from predominantly owner occupied to a renter-owner mix. Because renter households have lower incomes, this will have a resulting reduction in consumer spending power. A conservative estimate of this impact indicates that there is between $40 to $50 million in consumer spending potential at risk.

    Residents, property and small business owners in the impacted neighborhoods are, in effect, being asked by the city to shoulder the burdens of increasing airport activity. This amounts to a wealth transfer of residential and business from the impacted neighborhoods to downtown in order to further political agendas and appease regional business interests.

    Furthermore, the city appears willing to sacrifice a proven and consistent tax revenue base for one that is speculative and transitory. This is not smart governance. I urge you to vote no on the [temporary holdroom expansion] lease back arrangement. [strong applause]

    Laura Sulciunas

    ...The adjoining Ports of L.A. and Long Beach make up the single largest source of pollution in the region and they're also the most unregulated...Now city staff wants to expand another polluter, the Airport. How much pollution does Long Beach and all of its residents need to bear? Because air pollution does impact all Long Beach residents, and even those residents of surrounding cities...

    Joe Sopo

    ...I'm not anti-airport. I'm anti-anything that is a detriment to the quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods. Today's Press-Telegram lead editorial gave compelling reasons to expand the LB Airport. Expand to eliminate passengers having to stand in long lines in the sun and rain. [audience laughter] Expand to eliminate passenger frustration and discomfort.

    In that [editorial] article, it never once mentioned the surrounding neighborhoods. It never mentioned their frustration and discomfort. Are the neighborhoods so easy to forget?

    Many of you ran your last campaign for the protection and nurturing of the neighborhoods. Well here's your opportunity. We're asking you for protection, not expansion.

    ...One of the worst decisions made by a previous Council was to allow the construction of those 18 and 16 unit apartment buildings built [the "crackerboxes"]. It sounded like a good thing at the time...Is there any one of you that wouldn't like to take that decision back tonight and not have those boxes there in our city?

    Anton Strigell [sp?]

    I was very moved by Councilman Carroll's opening statements. It was a very sad story about LB and how we've become victim to the evil airlines and the even more evil FAA. It was sad for one of two reasons and I don't know...which one of those it is.

    The first reason it would be sad is that it would mean that LB invited JetBlue in and gave them all the slots and found themselves in a situation which showed such lack of forethought of the administration...

    [ note: In the May, 2001 proceedings, Carroll made a substitute motion seeking a two week delay to brief the public and get input before changing the Airport flight slot allocation rules; his motion failed 3-6 (Yes: Carroll, Webb, Grabinski)...and a motion to proceed passed 8-1 (Carroll dissenting after failing to win a delay.)]

    The other reason it would be sad is that it points to the other case which I think is probably true, and that there is a larger agenda at stake her that has been going on for a longer time than the administration is willing to reveal...

    Why are we doing [fast track] design build? Why are we seeking FAA approval to float bonds in a way that is going to hide that from the public? Why are we proceeding so fast?

    ...Why aren't we here voting on the moratorium? That to me is the biggest sign that the second sad story is what is true: that this administration has an agenda. It's been going on for a long time to expand this airport, and that sad story that Councilman Carroll told us is a smokescreen.

    I want a vote on the moratorium, not on this JetBlue proposal. [applause]

    Lynn Hetherington [sp?]

    ...I'm an environmental scientist and I find it very frustrating that I am more and more living under a flight path that I never anticipated when I moved to this city...

    ...I think that there's a general assumption that current aircraft emissions are generally cleaner and they're generally less, but I have not seen any data and I have been looking for it...

    We're looking at having flights fly over extraordinarily sensitive receptor areas, schools, hospitals, residential. And the impacts to those types of sensitive receptors have already been demonstrated in recent studies conducted at other airports, and there are substantial adverse health effects in particular with children...

    I really at this point represent what I see as a unilateral appropriation of my home value and it's going to put me in a position where I'm going to have to move from this city...

    Rae Gabelich

    [Ms. Gabelich, who heads LBHUSH2, read from City Hall's 1997 Negative Declaration for a smaller 12,000 ft. expansion that was never built. City staff contended the 1997 Negative Declaration was sufficient to uphold the proposed larger project. The Negative Declaration includes a checklist. Ms. Gabelich read item after item, followed by City Hall's 1997 response for the smaller project.]

    Induce substantial growth in an area either directly or indirectly. No impact.

    Air quality. Violate any air quality standard or contribute to an existing or projected air quality violation. No impact.

    Expose sensitive receptors to pollution. No impact.

    Transportation circulation. Would the project result in increased vehicle trips or circulation? No impact. [laughter]

    Insufficient parking capacity on site or off site? No impact.

    This is currently being remediated without full disclosure to the community. It's a part of a piecemeal project.

    Noise. Would the proposal result in an increase in existing noise levels? No impact. [laughter]

    ...Public Service. Would the proposal have an effect upon or result in a need for new or altered government services in any of the following areas? Fire protection, police protection, schools, maintenance of public facilities: No impact.

    ...I just want to make a couple of comments on one of the things that you stated, Jackie. You said that this Council "will not allow"...Well, just like the Council will not allow commercial aviation if the voters would approve the 10,000 ft. runway. You all are not going to be here ten years from now...

    ...I would like to ask for leadership on this Council. I would like to see at least five of you, preferably all of you, carry the request for a moratorium. [strong applause]

    Elizabeth Cruz

    ...I represent the Park Los Altos Neighborhood Association and I'm in the 4th district. I am here because I deeply feel that this Council is trying to put the wool over our eyes. Why? That is what I would like to know.

    Do we get more revenue from homeowners or the airport?...

    ...I ask you that as our representatives you stop the double-talk and do your job as our representatives and not that of the Airport. I am a homeowner representing homeowners who are here because of the quality of our life. I urge you to please vote no on any expansion of the Airport.

    Kevin McAckrin [sp?]

    ...The issue tonight is one of facilities and not flights...We're essentially building up to accommodate the authorized flights...I think we need to move forward on the temporary facilities on the one hand and the planning for the permanent facilities on the other...

    Gigi Fast Elk Bannister

    ...The Long Beach is not your field of dreams. Do not build it and they won't come. [applause]

    ...The Airport [Advisory] Commissioner talked about the comfort and safety of people at the Airport, and what you need to be concerned about is the comfort and safety of your employers, the citizens of Long Beach...Just say no. Call a moratorium.

    Juan Albayer [sp?]

    I'm the interim vice president, president...of the Cerritos Park Homeowners Association...that represents close to a thousand properties in the Bixby Knolls area and I'd like to say on behalf of all my neighbors: You are destroying our way of life. You are destroying our properties, the value of these homes, and you're destroying the community...

    Diana Mann

    [Chair, ECO-link]...If you're wondering what the "diesel death zone is,"...I've got a map here [shows MATES-2 map of increased cancer risk in L.A. basin areas; MATES-2 study and map ca be accessed from front page]...particulates from diesel pollution. And this particulate's responsible for about two to three thousand deaths every year. So you guys are talking about public safety...two to three thousand people, if these people were shot, we'd have a war on our hands here...

    ...We are not creating a city that is health for our future generations...If we do nothing else, we need to find out what kind of pollution we're living with today, and then everything that we plan in the future needs to be based on how many more people do we want to die...

    Kids, their lungs are slowed down and retarded by living in this kind of pollution. Wake up people. Please pay attention to the deaths caused by asthma the kids are suffering...

    Don May

    ...Representing California Earth Corps...You can't really advocate the protection of the citizens in Long Beach, and the facts, the information, the reliable information is in an Environmental Impact Report...Since Sept. 11, this is a whole new project...One of the criteria for having to do it [an EIR] is it is controversial. Is this controversial? [laughter]. Are there people here that think that this is an important thing? That's why you're required to do a full EIR.

    ...[Refers to MATES-2 map of increased cancer risk] In this map if you look around LAX, and the particulate exhaust from aircraft is classified as a diesel particulate PM10s, and you'll notice there is an ellipse where the maximum level of risk is around LAX. You have to look see the smaller ellipse that's the current rate for the Long Beach airport. But it's there. And when you expand it, there's going to be a lot more people die...

    Bry Myown

    ...We've been here many times before in slow, incremental steps. And every time there's been some answer of what was tying our hands and why we had to this and couldn't do that, and when you start pulling that thread, it will get back to that night when you, and all of you except for Mr. Carroll who requested a time extension, sold the 41 slots to JetBlue and changed an ordinance in order to do that...

    ...If you mean the commitment that you express to the flight cap and the noise cap, and if Long Beach has a history of pioneering that kind of noise protection, then you will now do everything in your power to get us and grandfather us similar pollution protections, because it's going to be the pollution bucket we're worried about in the future. [rousing applause]

    Mike Kowal

    Last year, Long Beach Report dot com reported that the Southern California Association Governments predicted 3 million passengers a year at Long Beach Airport by 2025. Now we know, that with this City Hall's active encouragement, we will reach that level October, 2002.

    Please don't tell us, "We're from the government and we're here to help you." [laughter] The sad truth is, this Council helped create the problem you're now claiming you can solve.

    In May last year, this Council voted 8-1, Carroll dissenting, to fill all 41 large plane flight slots... You did it needlessly, recklessly and foolishly. You changed 41 flights from a worse case scenario to a goal to be achieved.

    ...You've put the permanent terminal enlargement on a fast track that won't even come back to you. You're not trying to help us, you're trying to avoid us. We insist that the permanent airport expansion come to you, not the Planning Commission.

    Please don't try to tell us you're trying to preserve our noise ordinance, as your actions are exactly what has put the noise ordinance at risk.

    And please don't tell us you want to answer our questions. We aren't asking any more. We're telling you: we want a moratorium now to stop you from doing more of the damage you've already done. [applause]

    In May, this Council voted unanimously to ask the City Manager and City Attorney for a report on the airport's real world effects on the community, something short an EIR. Two weeks ago, Councilman Carroll said he asked to put that report in a holding pattern. What's going on here? Why do we need this report in a holding pattern? Let's get it out here and see what it's all about. Every week that report isn't delivered that your voted actions don't carry a lot of weight.

    We will not let you censor the truth about your Airport's impacts. Please, bring us that report you promise. Please bring the permanent addition to the Council where it belongs. Please enact a moratorium tonight...

    Councilmen Webb, Carroll, Colonna and Councilwoman Kell, thank you for your past concern and promises regarding Airport impact. Mayor O'Neill, Councilman Baker, Uranga and Councilman Lerch, each of you during the last election cycle gave your assurance that you would not support any flights in excess of 41. Tonight is the night that you must back up your promises with your votes. [applause]

    John Donaldson

    ...I live in the 5th district...Did we screw it up last May, Jackie [Kell], when you made the motion to give the 21 [actually 27] flight slots to JetBlue? Maybe you ought to apologize to your constituents and say we messed up there.

    ...It always amazes me the brain power that this community brings to any issue...I'm in awe of the things that have been brought up here tonight and it's clear that we're not being fooled...

    Curt Castagna

    ...Representing the Long Beach Airport Area Business Council...Mayor O'Neill, you may recall since your first term in office, we have consistently supported the settlement of the federal litigation that secured local control of the airport to this body tonight. We again wish to stand before you and affirm this commitment and we would hope that the Council and staff listens to the residents here and educates them and continues the awareness that they've done over the last several months of the risks associated with losing control and having the airport in purview of federal court.

    ...We appreciate your need to assure and maintain safe and efficient airport operations that maximize the economic benefits to our community and as well, we certainly understand your need to mitigate the negative impacts to preserve a quality of life for our residents.

    ...It is...imperative that we stay the course in defending our noise regulations and at the same time follow through on our commitment to maximize the services provided at the airport within the establish vision recently adopted through the Strategic Plan that also went through a public process.

    Tonight, a vote of "no" would be counterproductive to this vision, but again we encourage you to provide the information to the citizens and the risks of what moratoriums and opening up the regulations to federal purview could do to this community.

    We understand there's a perception that the agenda items before you tonight may be perceived as hidden to allow greater flights above those permitted. It seems the focus of attention has shifted from the number of flights permitted to the amount of passengers and occupants in the terminal building. This false perception is unfortunate since there is a reality that the aircraft operating in Long Beach have some of the industry's highest load factors and the increased security requirements that have happened since Sept. 11.

    Failing to provide adequate terminal facilities will cause an undue burden on the traveling public. This combined with the with the negative impacts that would affect the local businesses who derive benefit from the traveling public and employee base could tarnish the image of our city, which has worked so hard over the last eight years in trying to overcome these types of perceptions...

    Hillary Frazier [sp?]

    ...My educational area is public health. I do health care policy, some people call me a health care economist, but I'm coming to you as a Mom and somebody who works in my day job with sick kids, a lot of kids with asthma. In fact my son, who's not on MediCal, does have asthma as well...

    I strongly urge you to reconsider and look at doing an EIR. You guys need to do that...People care about their children, way more than they care about their home values...

    Jack Wagner

    ...I'm the Executive Director of the Orange County Regional Airport Authority...14 cities in Orange County which has been looking since 1974 for a responsible aviation solution in southern California and for meeting Orange County's air passenger demands...

    ...El Toro has 4,700 acres on the base and it's surrounded by 16,000 acres above and beyond that of no homes, no schools. The answer is at El Toro...

    ...Your citizens have spoken very well and from the heart on a wide spectrum of views. Listen to them, because they're your servants...but I mean that sincerely as an objective outsider. I live in Irvine and I'm for an airport in El Toro so I have a fun life in my own neighborhood, but I still believe it's the most responsible answer available...

    ...Work with us and join with us. El Toro is not over until we exercise due process in the courts. I have not put that nail in the coffin, but when it is in the coffin, OCRAA is still going to be around to find a solution, and it's not bringing Orange County passengers up to your airport. We don't want to do that. We don't want to bring them to John Wayne. We want to find the right answer in a responsible way.

    Alex Wilcox
    ...I work for JetBlue Airways. I represent 200 full time JetBlue crew members that we've hired over the last year here in Long Beach, CA...

    ...Over 400,000 passengers...have flown out of LB Airport on JetBlue Airways in the past twelve months...I noted earlier this evening that there were many kids in the room, and it reminded me that 15-20% of our passengers are children. 15-20% of our passengers enjoy trips to Washington, D.C., New York City, Oakland, Salt Lake and enjoy the ability to broaden their horizons...

    The reason our airplanes are 96% full out of Long Beach is because we provide affordable fares to the community. The community, 400,000 strong, has voted for JetBlue.

    [O]ne of the things that I hope the children of Long Beach are taught is what is important to focus on is the facts, and not hyperbole and not emotion, but when deciding difficult questions, and these are difficult questions, what's important are the facts.

    The facts are, as I see them,...the average fare from Los Angeles to New York has decreased from $1600 to $299. We fly the quietest and most fuel efficient airplanes, and we can prove it. We've safely operated over 2,800 flights as of August 29, over 90% loads and over 90% on time performance. We've delighted over 400,000 customers in Long Beach alone.

    Now people may quite understandably be concerned with environmental issues and I can assure you that we have the most environmentally friendly fleet in the industry. We burn less fuel per passenger than any other airline.

    And as a whole, the entire aviation industry, aviation as it is, consumes less than 1% of the fossil fuels of this country. And I would remind the community that in Long Beach, JetBlue's consumption due to your very strong noise ordinance is far less than that.

    And when you compare our impact to the impact of the freeways, factories and refineries, we are an infinitesimal contributor to the negative impacts on this environment.

    ...I'm an operations guy, and I can tell you, if we don't get those nine trailers out there, and that's the question before you, we are not going to be able to successfully operate the flights that we've already sold. We sold 15,000 tickets to Vegas. We sold 20,000 tickets to Oakland. We haven't even started flying the service yet.

    Preserve our jobs. Keep a winning airline in our community. And I remind you one last time: the strongest thing you've got going for you is your 41 slots. If we can't demonstrate this community can support 41 flights, we risk losing all control over the entire airport.

    Council action

    Following a short break after public testimony, Vice Mayor Colonna offered an amendment to the proposed temporary facility expansion, to require environmental review of city staff's proposed permanent expanded passenger holdroom be completed within 120 days to be returned back to the City Council for review before any permanent facilities approved for construction at the Airport. (The environmental could be by a negative declaration finding no significant impacts).

    Councilman Webb said he was supportive of Colonna's motion. "That is what I would like to see us do, is move forward with the process where we bring back and do an environmental review and have a discussion where we all look everybody in the eye and vote on the project for the permanent facility."

    Councilman Baker asked what Colonna meant by "environmental review." "Is that an EIR?" Baker asked. Colonna referred the question to Deputy City Attorney Mike Mais, who responded:

    "What you'd be looking at with your environmental review would be a negative declaration that would analyze all of the ramifications of putting a new permanent holdroom at that facility. In essence, what it would be doing would be to update the environmental review that was completed and certified back in 1997."

    The crowd responded with shouts of, "No, no!" The Mayor called for order. Colonna then added:

    "I think what we're willing to accomplish here is that it be brought back so that this Council can then make a final decision. I believe that there may be some misunderstanding. We're not approving the holdroom this evening as a permanent facility..."

    Vice Mayor Colonna's proposed amendment passed unanimously 8-0.

    Then the Council took up staff's request to OK the temporary modular expansion to be built by JetBlue and lease back to the Airport.

    No Councilmember moved for a moratorium.

    Councilman Webb said he could not support staff's request to approve the temporary expansion. "At this point in time, I can't be supportive," Webb said.

    Councilman Baker -- whose 2d district is not directly Airport impacted -- was visibly troubled by what he'd heard. He said he was "actually personally very concerned about the motion...I've heard both sides of the argument that if we build a larger facility, sometime in the future, somebody could come in and say you've got excess facility space, take more flights. I know I've heard lawyers opine that that couldn't happen...but quite honesty I just don't believe that there's not an entity out there that couldn't make us take more flights if we had the space. [applause]"

    Later in the proceedings, Baker added:

    "[W]ill this forever expand -- I guess the word we're using now is "enhance" -- our LB Airport [and the answer] is "yes" and I philosophically can't get around that. I've personally visited a lot of those neighborhoods and I know what the impact is and I believe these people when they tell me that it's drastically affecting their lives and I won't be supporting any expansions." [strong applause]

    Vice Mayor Frank Colonna said:

    ...We're really maintaining I believe a responsible, defensive posture, and I feel that that is the primary issue here...We...passed a resolution...and I went to Washington on behalf of the counsel to deliver a message to the FAA that we were going to draw the line in the sand, we were not going to accept any more than 41 flights. And I feel we have moved way beyond in terms of our conversations tonight...we are not dealing with the flight issue, we are dealing with what we're trying to do in terms of accommodating people at the airport, and that's why I am in support of this motion, because it doesn't reflect the expansion of flights...

    Mayor O'Neill added:

    I think that for many of you out there, you probably think this is an easy decision, just do what you would like us to do. I think you can see from the Council discussion that it's a very difficult decision. One of the things that we're struggling with is making sure that we have control of our own airport...

    Staff's request to approve temporary expanded facilities built by JetBlue and leased back to the Airport passed 5-3 (Yes: Lowenthal, Colonna, Kell, Richardson-Batts and Lerch; No: Baker, Carroll, Webb; Absent: Reyes-Uranga).

    Following the vote, shouts of "Recall! Recall!" went up from about a dozen LBHUSH2 members who'd stayed for the vote.

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