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    In Depth / Perspective

    LB Airport Mgt. Won't Recommend Reducing Some Parts Of Its Airport Terminal Expansion Plan, Raises Issues Over Downsizing Others

    Airport Mgr. Says Exploring Second Story For Parts of Terminal Expansion Might Make Sense In Future Design Process

    (August 22, 2004) -- In response to a request by LB's Airport Advisory Commission, seeking to evaluate two smaller alternatives to Airport management's proposed terminal area expansion, Airport management won't recommend smaller sizes in some areas (like security) with federally indicated specifications...and argues that downsizing other areas (like concessions) could reduce potential city revenue or create other issues.

    Reducing the largest proposed size increase -- the Concession Area (proposed to expand from 5,460 square feet by 20,000 sf for a total of 25,460 sf) -- could cut into possible revenue, including liquor sales, Airport Manager Chris Kunze told the advisory panel at its August 19 meeting. itemizes Airport management's response below.

    In his presentation, Mr. Kunze also said it might make sense (as part of a not-yet-commenced design process) to explore adding a second story to parts of terminal if such second story areas were separate from areas (like holdrooms) that could invite capacity increases.

    In September 2003, Airport management released a formal Notice of Preparation for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the project. Its proposed size increases were smaller than Airport management proposes now. Formal EIR scoping meetings took place on management's Sept. 2003 proposal (including a court reporter to take down public testimony on issues to include in the EIR) in October 2003, and the Council was expected to vote on the scope of EIR issues in December 2003...but didn't.

    In late October 2003 (with city elections in the Airport-impacted 4th and 8th Council districts approaching in spring 2004), the Council referred Airport terminal issues to its "Airport Advisory Commission" (AAC) for "recommendations." The Council action effectively delayed a Council vote on the hot potato Airport subjects until after the 2004 city elections. (In April and June 2004, 4th and 8th district voters removed the now-former incumbents.)

    In June 2004, Airport management released its current proposal for expansion of the Airport's permanent terminal area facilities (what it calls Staff Recommended Facilities Program or "SRFP"). The SRFP proposes increases larger than what management proposed less than a year earlier in its Sept. 2003 Notice of Preparation of Environmental Impact Report (EIR). [For comparisons, click here.]

    Airport management's June 2004 SRFP largely parallels May 2004 recommendations by HNTB, a firm hired by the Airport as a consultant. HNTB has designed and built other major projects nationally, including airports and major parts of the Alameda Corridor. HNTB said its May 2004 recommendations were based on industry standards and an FAA advisory...and in some cases were downsized by HNTB to reflect LB Airport's physical limitations..

    On July 15, 2004, the Mayor-named, Council approved advisory body voted (6-2) to ask Airport staff to prepare two alternatives to Airport management's SRFP -- one smaller, and one still smaller with parameters left to staff -- for evaluation alongside the SRFP.

    On August 19, Airport Manager Kunze delivered what he called a status report on the downsized alternatives, describing what it called assumptions and guidelines being followed regarding the alternatives. Mr. Kunze said Airport staff did not recommend changes to its proposed increases in the following areas:

    • Passenger screening (5,900 sf to 10,000 sf): "...[S]quare footage dependent upon the requirements and guidelines of the Transportation Security Administration..."

    • Baggage security screening (5,000 sf to 7,000-10,000 sf): "...[S]quare footage dependent upon the requirements and guidelines of the Transportation Security Administration. The size provided for in the SRFP [Airport Staff Recommended Facility Program] is based on a design by TSA consultants for future improvements to the baggage screening process at the Long Beach Airport..."

    • Baggage claim (406 sf increased to 806 sf): "The minimum number of linear feet required for the forecast passenger arrivals was utilized in the SRFP. Reducing that number would cause delays in the airline delivery and passenger retrieval of baggage, not only inconveniencing passengers but also resulting in safety and security concerns as the baggage claim areas would become overcrowded...[T]he recommended number of bag claim devices and baggage claim area does not add capacity or draw passengers to the Airport..."

    • Baggage Service office (0 sf to 900 sf): "The baggage service office provides a secure location for airlines to lock-up baggage unclaimed or left behind by passengers and a location to assist passengers with filing reports for lost luggage. The square footage provided in the SRFP is only 900 square feet. As the size of the baggage service doe not add capacity or draw passengers to the Airport [size reduction is not recommended]."

    • Restrooms (non secure) (1,330 sf to 2,000 sf): "There is currently a shortage of restrooms on the non-secure side of the Terminal facilities...As the number of restrooms (non-secure) does not add capacity or draw passengers to the Airport, [reducing the number is not recommended]"

    • Multi-purpose rooms (0 sf to 300 sf): "The Terminal area currently does not have any meeting rooms that can seat more than six people. To accommodate many meetings, staff must hold meetings off-site. In addition, a room is desired onsite for security debriefings and for security training...As the size of the multi-purpose room does not add capacity or draw passengers to the Airport, [reducing the multi-purpose room size is not recommended]."

    • Ticketing facilities (4,050 sf to 10,230 sf [includes existing 4,050 sf]): "The ticketing area in the SRFP includes space for the ticket counters, passenger queuing in front of the counters, and circulation space in the ticketing lobby. The ticket counter length is based on the current high utilization factor applied to the forecast passenger activity, plus required minimal additional length to accommodate forecast future commuter airlines. The recommended queuing and circulations spaces are based on minimum planning factors applied to the recommended counter length. Because the counter length and associated queuing and circulation areas are already sized to minimum standards, no reduction is recommended."

    • Aircraft Gates (8 to 11): "The forecast prepared by HNTB indicates that for the 41 commercial flights and 25 commuter flights, 11 gates will be needed. This number is dependent on the forecasted number of flights for the peak hour and not the square footage of the facility or convenience of the passenger. Therefore, it is recommended that this number not be reduced."

    • Vehicle Parking (3,900 to 4,000 [spaces]): "To eliminate off-site parking and the need for shuttles, it is recommended that the number of vehicle parking spaces to be provided in the new parking structure, not be reduced, but remain as indicated in the SRFP."

    Airport management left four areas for possible reductions from its June 2004 SRFP...but claimed that each created new issues:

    • Holdrooms (19,650 sf to 32,950 sf [includes existing 19,650 sf]): "The components of the holdrooms in the SFRP -- departure lounges, circulation and restrooms -- were sized to provide an industry-average level of service, which would alleviate current overcrowding and congestion and provide adequate capacity to accommodate the permitted commuter flight activity. The reduced-size alternatives will consider reduction of these areas which will result in lower levels of service, approaching or matching the conditions that exist today."

    • Concession Area (5,460 sf to 25,460 sf [includes existing 5,460 sf]): "The concession area in the SFPR is estimated based on a preliminary concession area planning factor that assumes an assortment of retail offerings, a typical airport concessions layout, and an opportunity for maximized revenue to the Airport. The reduced-size alternatives will consider concession areas that a) limit the number and type of retail offerings, b) restrict the type of concession service (seating for food service, for example), which in turn will impact the revenue potential, or c) some combination of both."

    • Office space (12,570 sf to 35,470 sf [includes existing 6,970 sf in offices]): "Currently, office space in temporary trailers is held by both the TSA and airlines. The SRFP provided for the elimination of the temporary trailers and constructing larger size officers in the overall amount of square footage estimated to be the required space by TSA (13,500 square feet) and the airlines (10,000 square feet). [The SFRP proposes 5,000 sf more for airport offices and conference, plus the existing 6,970 sf] .

      The reduced size alternatives will consider reduction of the square footage in the Terminal area to that amount of estimated square footage that is necessary to be in the Terminal area because of its function (i.e., breakroom for TSA employees; ground crew base for airlines.) Additional required office space would have to be found by the TSA or airlines off-site or at adjacent leaseholds. There would be impacts resulting from any reduction.

      No reduction to the square footage for Airport office space is recommended. The number was reduced in the SRFP to 5,000 square feet from the 10,000 square feet that was included in the NOP [Notice of Preparation of EIR]. The 5,000 square feet is considered the lowest practical minimum and would include additional staff offices, security officer locker rooms, and space requested by the Long Beach Police."

    • Aircraft Parking Positions (10 to 16): "The forecast prepared by HNTB indicates that for the 41 commercial flights and 25 commuter flights, 16 parking positions are required during the peak hour. This number includes both a parking positions for a spare aircraft and a parking position for an off-schedule aircraft. These two positions could be eliminated, but not without impact to Airport and airline operations. The reduced size alternatives may include a reduced number of aircraft parking positions; that number will be determined following additional analysis of impacts."

    Airport management asked that if AAC members wanted to offer any "redirection" to the above, that they do so on August 19. Most didn't.

    Three of the AAC's nine members were absent for the item (chair Salk, members Alton and Haubert). Haubert, a lawyer from ELB's 4th Council district who made the July 15 motion that requested two smaller alternatives, stressed at the time that expanding the Airport's permanent terminal area facilities should be approached so as to improves LB's ability to protect and defend its Airport noise ordinance.

    Haubert argued in July that applying "industry standards" could undercut features that many people applaud and desire at LB Airport, including its compact size and short walking distances. He urged approaching expansion of the Airport's permanent in a strategic manner that would help protect and defend LB's Airport noise ordinance. Haubert had to run in from work to attend the late afternoon AAC meeting...and wasn't present when much of the discussion took place.

    In response to an Advisory Commissioner's question about adding a possible second story to the terminal, Airport Manager Kunze said management's "guiding principles" suggested no second story on the holdroom (out of concern that it could be converted to a holdroom) -- but "if there could be a second story that's totally separate and apart from the, for example over baggage claim for example, or somewhere where you could not convert it to capacity, because of our shortage of space in the terminal area it might make sense to explore that in the design process."

    HNTB's rep added, "It's an economy of construction to put offices upstairs." Commissioner Robert Luskin, who voted against Haubert's July motion seeking downsized alternatives, said: "Land is such a valuable commodity, and the cost of building a second story is so much less than encroaching on more land, it would be certainly foolish financially to not go with a second story."

    Silence followed, with no other Advisory Commissioner present dissenting from Luskin's reasoning. Vice chair (presiding) Alan Fox then changed the subject.

    Earlier in the meeting, an HNTB rep said he didn't know exactly what reduction in revenue might result if "sit-down" dining (now anticipated) were eliminated ("our concessions planner will give us input on that") and said that while it might not be a big magnitude reduction "there is going to be some reduction [in revenue] because people with time to kill would like to sit down, and so they're not going get as much if they're going to grab it and take it with their carry-ons on the airplane."

    Airport Manager Kunze added, "Another big part of that is liquor sales. If we don't have sit-down areas in the holdrooms, then there will be no liquor sales." The HNTP rep added, "That's a good point. I didn't think of that."

    The "Airport Advisory Commission" has no power to decide the Airport sizing or EIR issues (or any issues). It can only offer recommendations for Council action. Its nine members were chosen by Mayor O'Neill and approved by voted action of the City Council. Most of the AAC's current members have aviation-related employment or business backgrounds; some are current or inactive private pilots; however, these aviation backgrounds are not required to serve on the AAC. One current member is an 8th district resident active in LBHUSH2.

    Related coverage:

  • July 2004: Airport Advisory Comm'n Wants To See Alternatives To Airport Mgt's Latest Terminal Expansion Plan

  • June 2004: Details Of City Mgt's Proposed LB Airport Permanent Terminal Facilities Expansion; Parts Are Larger Than City Hall's Notice of EIR Preparation For Project In Sept. 03

  • June 2004: FAA-Sponsored Study Puts LB Airport on Nat'l List It Contends Will Need Add'l Capacity By 2013 & 2020

  • June 2004: July 2001 City Mgr. Letter Responded To JetBlue Requests For Airport Improvements & Services By Itemizing $55+ Million In City-Provided Marketing + Airport Improvements + Lakewood Blvd. Improvements Then Underway or Scheduled

  • June 2004: Size Matters @ LGB: LB Airport-Hired Firm Recommends Significant Expansion of Airport's Terminal Area Facilities; LBHUSH2 Urges Health Risk Assessment First, Minimum Expansion in Stages...And Creating Airport Ordinance Litigation Fund -- Paid By Airport Revenues -- To Protect LB From Future Legal Challenges

  • May 2004: LB Airport Mgt. Now Forecasts Closer To 4.1-4.2 Million Annual Passengers (Not 3.8 Million), Citing Higher Load Factors & New Aircraft Designs

  • March 2004: City Mgt. Responds To FAA Draft Study Listing LB Airport Among Those Nat'lly Needing Increased Capacity By 2013

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