August 13 Council Airport Action:
Council Readies Resolution, Coordinated With Burbank & L.A. County, To Encourage Further Flights Inland At Palmdale & Ontario;
LBHUSH2 Seeks Moratorium On Airport Terminal Expansion And Halt To Pro-Airport Advertising & Marketing; Council Doesn't Respond;
Councilman Carroll Says He's Asked To Put Report He Requested In May On Airport's Homeowner and Environmental Effects In A "Holding Pattern," Says He Doesn't Want To Disturb "Negotiations" Ongoing With FAA...But Doesn't Say What's Being Negotiated
(August 14, 2002) -- LB Councilmembers declared their support tonight for a City Council resolution (non-binding but an indication of the Council's collective view) which would put LB City Hall on record, in a move being coordinated with L.A. County and Burbank, to encourage sending new flights inland to Ontario and Palmdale (details below).
"This is a two pronged approach. We need to continue to support that local [LB Airport Noise and Compatibility] ordinance [which contains LB's noise budgeted flight limits] that we have in Long Beach, and also work on a regional approach with our neighbors as how we solve the dilemma of where new air traffic is going to go in the greater Los Angeles basin," said 8th district Councilman Rob Webb, who co-agendized the resolution with 4th district Councilman Dennis Carroll and 7th district Councilwoman Tonia Reyes-Uranga,
Members of the newly re-organized grassroots group, LBHUSH2 (which had roughly 1,600 members citywide opposing airport flight increases in the 1980s) made their first organized City Council appearance and warned that City Hall's plan to expand LB's Airport terminal (previously reported by LBReport.com) and City Hall's continued marketing and advertising of the Airport could undermine efforts to control LB flights.
Although LBHUSH2 thanked the Council for its resolution, it urged Councilmembers to put a moratorium on City Hall's planned Airport terminal expansion and stop City Hall's marketing and advertising of the Airport. The Council did not respond to the group's requests.
Meanwhile, 4th district Councilman Dennis Carroll, who presented a May 14 Council request (co-agendized with Councilmembers Colonna, Kell & Webb and passed unanimously) seeking a City Manager/City Attorney report on the Airport's environmental and human effects that he hoped to receive in 30 to 45 days, disclosed he has asked that the report -- still undelivered -- be put in a "holding pattern," citing "negotiations" now ongoing with the FAA.
Councilman Carroll did not "discuss what was being "negotiated"...or why it should prevent delivery of a factually accurate report...or how long the Council-directed report would remain in a "holding pattern."
Instead, Councilman Carroll indicated the City Manager would shortly deliver a report on current construction at the Airport. In recent days and weeks, LBReport.com has detailed (first among LB media) City Hall's planned additions to LB Airport's terminal facilities.
Councilman Carroll said in pertinent part:
"We have coming an explication of the current construction program at the Airport. The City Manager is putting that together for us...We have the impact study that I had requested from the legal department and I think it's also well to remember that these impact studies can cut both ways, and before we launch into it, which it looks like we are going to soon, I would like to have, and I would like the public to know, what both the pros and cons of such a report mean for us. What we want to do is resolve the problem as best we can, rather than create problems for ourselves. And I want to particularly acknowledge the efforts of our City Attorney and the outside counsel that has been retained. I think after Councilmember Colonna went to Washington [in May], it created an environment and a context for negotiations which in fact have begun. The FAA has come out here. Mr. Bennett called a conference and [City Attorney] Shannon have been, I think helpful in formulating various different possibilities for us and we are in the midst of those negotiations. And 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. 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..."
LBHUSH2 leader Rae Gabelich thanked the Council for its proposed resolution but urged the Council to enact a moratorium on Airport terminal expansion, warning it could invite others to claim LB could handle more flights.
"What we would like to do, in partnership with the [Council] resolution, LBHUSH is requesting that our City Council agendize a moratorium on the Airport facility expansion...before the first shovel is raised in that project, and to use this time to review all of the documents...to realize the impact that this could have on our community," Ms. Gabelich said. She added it would "almost triple the size of the existing facility. I think that my fear there is that it will accommodate far more [than 41 + 25 flights daily flights]" and the FAA may decide LB can handle more. "So we're asking you to take this time to call the moratorium, to review the materials, and to, on behalf of your community...really assess the way that we should be going in this matter."
Ms. Gabelich also thanked L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe for successfully obtaining a June Board of Supervisors resolution (previously reported by LBReport.com) that put the County on record as supporting LB's advocacy efforts to maintain the city's noise budgeted flight limits.
Another 8th district resident, Ron Noe, said that in addition to the Council resolution, Councilmembers should "take the extra step by delaying any airport facilities expansion by at least six months. A delay of expansion would allow the city to address the current lack of an environmental impact study and to scrutinize the facility's expansion footprint that we're being told is designed to accommodate 41 flights. It's more than reasonable to assume the current expansion footprint is designed to handle well over 41 + 25 [daily flights]."
Mr. Noe criticized City Hall for continuing to market and advertise the Airport. Displaying an ad placed by LB Airport in the Long Beach Business Journal [excerpts: "Why battle larger airports when Long Beach offers convenient daily flights and quick check in?...Watch for coming service to Seattle via Horizon Air..."], Mr. Noe said:
"This is a case of one hand trying to limit flight activity while the other hand is inviting people to use the airport."
7th district resident Laura Salciunas testified:
"I'm also concerned about the economic impact. Airplanes going over housing will decrease housing values, and I know our City Manager has shared that we have a "hold the line" budget. So I'm concerned that we haven't looked at not only the environmental impacts but also the economic impacts. And I think we need to do that before we break any ground on any sort of additional facilities expansion. So I urge you to issue a moratorium to stop any further expansion of the terminal facilities at the airport."
4th district Stearns Park neighborhood activist Traci Wilson-Kleekamp said:
"I would say we have a serial CEQA violation and some piecemeal project planning going on, which is not about advance planning it's about doing it in the dark...So I hope that this measure [resolution] is more than just words and more than just getting felt up...I hope it goes further than that so that we start seeing that planning ahead is really doing something that increases our quality of life..."
Palmdale Councilman Rick Norris attended the LB Council meeting and indicated he supported efforts to bring air carrier service to the Antelope Valley. Councilman Norris said in part:
"The increased traffic clogging your streets and LAX streets are our citizens, because they're having to drive 100 miles to go get airline service...As long as you continue to give them gates and terminals, they will not leave existing airports, because it's easier to take what you have an expand what you have than to break new ground...You have those adverse environmental issues: the traffic, the air, the noise. We're not looking for environmental problems, but we're looking to solve them by cutting down the amount of vehicle miles travelled using our own airport service to support our Antelope Valley..."
But Orange County resident Rex Ricks of Huntington Beach said while developing Palmdale was admirable, he believed air carriers would continue to seek more flights in the L.A./OC area. He advised LB to "get a bunch of cities on board to mount a huge legal defense [against an expected challenge by commercial air carriers]...I actually got documentation of [OC] politicians calling for Long Beach to be busted wide open, 'cause they figure if they can get this place busted wide open to 15-30 MAP [million annual passengers], there's no need for El Toro..."
The Council eventually voted 9-0 to direct the City Attorney to draft a resolution that would "encourage state, federal and county legislators and administrators to explore solutions to this regional problem which will include the feasibility of utilizing outlying airports in less residentially developed areas. Decentralizing the burden of increased flight activity will reduce the impact to Long Beach, which will be adversely affected by increased flight activity and its attendant environmental impacts."
The actual resolution text will be brought back to the Council in (anticipated) two weeks for a vote.