(December 8, 2002) -- LBHUSH2 founder Rae Gabelich has told a meeting of airport-impacted homeowners that City Council recalls should be the next step if incumbent Councilmembers don't represent their community's views on the airport.
Ms. Gabelich's comment came during a December 5 LBHUSH community meeting at Hughes Middle School in the Bixby Knolls/California Heights area attended by roughly 130 LB residents. It followed a presentation by a lawyer for a firm retained by LBHUSH2 who stressed the need for public participation in amassing a detailed record of issues in the environmental review process for a City Hall favored permanent expansion of airport facilities.
The attorney indicated that the City Council [which has the power to vote yes or no on proceeding with the project in the first place] will ultimately vote on the sufficiency of City Hall's environmental review (an EIR), which residents may then challenge in court. He indicated some environmental cases settle and produce "better" projects. If litigation proceeds to trial and residents win, City Hall may then try to revise the airport project and its environmental review...on which the Council would again have the power to vote (and which residents could again challenge in court.) If residents lose at trial, they could proceed to a court of appeal.
The legal prospects left some audience members frustrated. After the lawyer departed and LBHUSH2 leaders fielded questions, audience member Frank Acevedo said:
"I am 100% in favor of stopping the airport expansion...You have my undying support...But at the end, it's the City Council who makes that decision. Can some of these efforts be put toward removing some of those folks from the City Council who are, look at what makes it happen!"
His remarks drew applause. Two LB Council incumbents -- 8th district Councilman Rob Webb and 4th district Councilman Dennis Carroll -- were present in the room.
"Boy are you putting me in a bad place," responded Ms. Gabelich, uncharacteristically uncomfortable in a public forum. The applause continued. Ms. Gabelich began to reply but Mr. Acevedo was still steaming ahead:
"...You're talking about lots of legal effort, lots of specialists, lots of time...but the real crux of the matter is, that if the City Council is making decisions we don't like, we have a tool to get rid of that," Mr. Acevedo said.
Choosing her words carefully, Ms. Gabelich replied:
"You are right, and that is a possibility. And I like to look at a lot of these guys that sit on the other side of that railing as people that I [two second pause], I am friends with. But I know there has to be a line...You put me in a really bad place [laughs]. Recall? Let me put it this way: If we are not being represented, because that's why we elected them to go into that position to represent what we want as a community, then I think absolutely that should be the next step."
Another LBHUSH2 leader, Mike Kowal of the Los Cerritos neighborhood followed Ms. Gabelich and stated:
"This isn't the time. If you want to take on that cause, we can, we will, but we've got to address the immediate need [the EIR legal process] now," said Mr. Kowal, adding "We've got to do what we have to do now. We've got to stop this from expanding any more than we have now."