Council Silent But 8th Dist. Candidate Gabelich Answers SCAG Exec. Dir. re LB Airport; We Post Her Comments And His Response
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(February 13, 2004) -- In the wake of recent remarks to the LB City Council by the Executive Director of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) regarding LB Airport, 8th district Council candidate Rae Gabelich came to the Council chamber podium to deliver a polite but firm public response.
In discussing SCAG's proposed 2030 Regional Transportation at the January 13, 2004 Council meeting, SCAG Executive Director Mark Pisano said that if SCAG's regional airport plan to expand Palmdale and Ontario doesn't succeed, other developed airports -- including LB -- would face political pressure for more flights despite LB's legal protections.
Noting that no incumbent Councilmember publicly responded to this statement when it was made, Ms. Gabelich used the Council's public comment period on February 10 to do so.
Ms. Gabelich thanked Councilmembers Bonnie Lowenthal and Tonia Reyes-Uranga for having agendized the issue of SCAG's Regional Transportation Plan...and indicated that because the regionally-based document is so important, she wanted to share written comments she had submitted to SCAG on the matter.
Speaking in a businesslike manner, Ms. Gabelich said:
SCAG's draft Regional Transportation Plan recognizes that 3.8 million annual passengers at Long Beach Airport reflects the level provided by the city's airport ordinance.
However, I take exception to a recent statement by SCAG's Executive Director at the January 13 Long Beach City Council meeting in which he indicated that if SCAG's regional airport plan does not work as planned, "there will be increased pressure -- notwithstanding legal protections around Long Beach today -- there will be continued political pressure to use already developed airports."
Not one Long Beach City Council member responded to this statement when it was made. My response is straightforward. I regard this statement as harmful to the interests of the City of Long Beach, its laws, its residents, their homes, their families, their neighborhoods...and ultimately harmful to the region.
I believe one does not serve the region in the 21st century by making its livable parts less livable.
Ms. Gabelich indicated that as a taxpayer and homeowner, she had submitted comments on SCAG's proposed 2030 Regional Transportation Plan to urge including an amendment specifying measures that will ultimately result in attainment of federally mandated clean air standards.
The LB area fails to meet federal clean air standards now (even before 2030 growth), part of a large regional "non-attainment" zone due in large part to pollution (especially diesel) from sources under federal jurisdiction such as trucks, planes and ships.
Ms. Gabelich said:
SCAG's recently released Regional Report Card shows the counter-productive results of inviting impacts that harm the region's quality of life.
Growth is good, but balance must be mandatory.
Two entities of the City of Long Beach are cause for concern. The Port of Long Beach, and its associated transportation impacts, have been identified by the South Coast Air Quality Management District as among the region's worst pollution sources.
Increased operations at Long Beach's city-owned airport also make it harder for the region to attain federal clean air standards. No other area airport is located as close to the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, their pollution and their related traffic impacts. No other airport has been invited to grow as fast by the actions of local officials despite being surrounded by densely populated residential areas, schools, parks and shopping centers.
Reached for comment by LBReport.com, SCAG Executive Director Pisano said that concerning LB Airport, the region (i.e. SCAG) "strongly supports current [LB Airport] limitations and the city's legal limitations on use of its airport...and that's why the policy [3.8 million annual passengers at LB, noted by Ms. Gabelich] is part of the Regional Transportation Plan."
Mr. Pisano said that his Council comments noted that "we are attempting to attain capacity [with SCAG's regional airport plan]. But if we're not able to meet the demands of aviation, it will put pressure on the political system, the legislative system and the judicial system to meet the demands. We're working very hard as a region to make sure that doesn't happen" [i.e., SCAG is working to have its regional airport plan succeed.]
Regarding attainment of federal clean air standards, Mr. Pisano acknowledged that while SCAG's Regional Transportation Plan complies with requirements that non-federal entities must meet (and SCAG can't adopt a plan unless it does so), "there is the issue of sources like ships and other controls that are outside the control of the region...The region is working with cities to urge the federal government to allow or adopt more stringent requirements on sources of pollution they control."
On learning of Mr. Pisano's comments, Ms. Gabelich indicated she welcomed the opportunity to find common ground and make progress on pollution. Regarding possible future pressure to expand airport flights, she said "we will have to agree to disagree on that." She added that the comments of SCAG's executive director justify her position of not exposing LB to further risk by expanding airport capacity beyond what is legally required.
Ms. Gabelich is one of three challengers to 8th district Council incumbent Rob Webb.
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