(August 22, 2002) -- Charting a collision course with the grassroots activist group LBHUSH2 over further LB Airport facility expansions, LB city management will ask the Council on August 27 to approve fast track expansion of airport passenger holding facilities by letting JetBlue build modular trailer facilities and lease them back to the Airport. We post city staff's report verbatim in pdf form on a link below.
LBHUSH2 has urged a moratorium, public review and a Council vote on expansion of LB Airport facilities.
City staff says the temporarily modular trailer expansion will be removed after a permanent Airport terminal addition, now being planned, is completed. But the permanent Airport terminal addition has still not been shown to the public or the Council. LBReport.com was first among LB media to report salient parts of the plan weeks ago: 38,000 sq. ft. for an expanded baggage area (19,000 sq. ft.), security and holdroom facilities.
As also previously reported by LBReport.com, city staff has thus far bypassed Council review of the 38,000 sq. ft. permanent Airport terminal addition by attempting to justify it under a 1997 Council vote that approved a roughly 12,000 sq. ft. addition. City Hall said at the time it would accommodate 41 large commercial flights...but with fewer passengers.
City Hall now says higher load factors (% of filled seats) and larger planes today mean more passengers and thus larger facilities. City staff does not plan to seek Council review or approval for the enlarged permanent project at this point.
Although a city staff report accompanying the August 27 JetBlue temporary facility expansion item says, "Site plan review for these [permanent passenger holdroom and accessory facilities] will be presented to the Planning Commission in September," the Planning Commission review actually stems from an appeal filed by a Bixby Knolls homeowner, Ron Noe, who challenged city staff's site plan review approval. Had that not occurred, a public hearing might not take place until further in the process, if then.
City staff has also continued to treat the permanent Airport terminal addition as only requiring staff approval. That keeps Mr. Noe's appeal restricted to the non-elected Planning Commission without reaching the elected City Council.
However, the Council could choose to agendize detailed public review of the permanent Airport terminal expansion on its own. Thus far, no Councilmember has done so.
News of the proposed temporary facilities, and City Hall's efforts to bypass Council review of permanent Airport terminal additions, has angered LBHUSH2, the recently reorganized homeowner group opposed to expanded operations at LB Airport. The group has publicly urged a moratorium on further airport expansion projects, coupled with detailed public examination and a Council vote to approve any further Airport facility expansions.
The issue of a permanent Airport terminal addition is also approaching the Council from another flank in September. As previously reported by LBReport.com, city management has in budget documents proposed to pay for the permanent Airport terminal addition by floating bonds and paying the interest with a per passenger fee. Left unstated: the bonds would create a continuing fiscal justification for City Hall to promote the Airport and maintain passenger levels to generate the passenger tax to pay off the bonds. City management hopes to secure Council approval for the per passenger fee in the coming City Council budget on which Councilmembers will be asked to vote by the end of September.
Meanwhile, prior to the August 27 vote on the temporary Airport expanded facilities, 4th district Councilman Dennis Carroll, 8th district Councilman Rob Webb and 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell have agendized three airport related "questions" for city management about Airport construction. We post the text of the Carroll, Webb and Kell agendizing memo below: