Council Committee OK's & Sends Airport "Guiding Principles" To Council For Approval
(January 25, 2005) -- The City Council's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (Reyes Uranga, chair; Kell & Gabelich, members) has approved a set of ten "Guiding Principles" for LB Airport Marketing and User Responsibilities that will be sent to the full Council for approval on Feb. 1.
We post below the Committee-approved Guiding Principles below. If approved by the Council on February 1 (possibly with changes), they won't be legally binding...and some of their verbiage is susceptible to multiple interpretations and is arguably conclusory in parts.
However Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga, who crafted a similar set of Guiding Principles for I-710 freeway expansion plans, said the Airport Guiding Principles are valuable:
The fact that Council can develop and implement or recommend policy any Tuesday, that is where these will be carried out. Any Tuesday, when someone brings an Airport related to the Council for a vote, it will be looked at through the eyes of these Guiding Principles. And I would suggest that once this goes forward and it gets approved, that we'll probably see items very soon that may in fact reference the Guiding Principles, and so that's our hope.
The Guiding Principles are expected to come to the City Council for approval on Feb 1...and on Feb. 8, city staff has indicated it plans to seek Council approval to prepare an EIR for expansion of LB Airport's permanent terminal area facilities. City management is proposing facility increases considerably larger than it described in its September 2003 Notice of EIR Preparation.
The Committee's approval of the Guiding Principles follows a January 13 field meeting during which it took over two hours of public testimony on the issue. Points made during that hearing were presented in written summation form and will also be forwarded to the Council.
Among those testifying at the Committee's January 25 meeting was Kevin McAchren of the Long Beach Airport Association, who told the Committee:
We believe the immediate responsibility of the City Council should be to move forward with the scoping of an EIR study to ensure that the much needed terminal facilities are built in a timely manner...Although the Guiding Principles are something certainly worth to look at, I don't think they should delay or in some way hold in abeyance the moving forward of the scoping for the EIR."
Frank Newell, who chairs a City Hall appointed Economic Development Commission, told the Council committee on January 25:
"I do believe that we have continuing concerns regarding the language, and specifically believe the land use language should include more general language that would be consistent with whether it's 'maximizing economic return to the community' or 'sustaining or fostering economic return to the community,' it does not appear to us that the land use element that is in here provides for that..."
Mr. Newell noted that the Economic Development Commission had voted nearly unanimously [with one dissent, Gary DeLong] to pursue this and other issues as the Guiding Principles advance to the full Council.
LB realtor and LBHUSH2 leader Mike Kowal responded:
This issue's been ongoing for over a year now, and I think [the Economic Development Commission] might be the new player on the block. I'm interested in why they decided to get involved at this point in time...I'm hoping that they're considering the residential side of economic development, which is probably larger than the business side here as far as the input and the value to our city. The residential [property] tax increments that we receive...they're huge...and I hope that [a study reportedly forthcoming from CSUBLB Prof. Joseph Maggadino] includes the potential for loss of revenue from airport impact or related impacts that are coming upon this city...
Parts of Guiding Principle 10 were amended to include additional references to benefits to businesses.
The Airport terminal area expansion sizes now favored by management have grown to such an extent that City Hall now plans to issue a new Notice of EIR Preparation to replace its original Notice and project sizes. Councilmembers had been scheduled to vote on releasing an EIR for the original (smaller) expansion in December 2003...but instead sent the issue to the Council's "Airport Advisory Commission" which has no substantive power to decide matters.
The Council's 2003 action effectively delayed its vote on the Airport issue until after April and June 2004 city elections. In those elections, voters in the airport-impacted 4th and 8th districts voted out two incumbents who had been backed by LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill.
In the interim period, Airport management and HNTB (a firm which does planning work and also builds public works projects including airports) developed new proposed Airport terminal facility sizes. The resulting management-backed proposal is two stories high and sized using what HNTB calls industry standards, FAA recommendations and empirical (real world) passenger levels reflecting updated newer aircraft designs and higher load factors. HNTB says it also downsized its proposal somewhat, reflecting LGB's constricted space. Much of the expansion is devoted to concessions.
In spring 2001, Airport management told the Southern California Association of Governments (and SCAG approved) a forecast in which LB Airport would handle 3.0 million annual passengers by 2025. By spring 2004, LB Airport management said LGB expects to handle roughly 4.2-4.3 million annual passengers when LB's currently allowed flight slots are filled.
The Committee-approved Guiding Principles follow:
GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR LONG BEACH AIRPORT
As approved by City Council Transportation & Infrastructure Committee
January 25, 2005. 3-0 (Reyes Uranga, Kell, Gabelich)
The purpose of the Guiding Principles for Long Beach Airport is to provide elected officials, management and staff with guidelines for making future decisions.
Identify and minimize cumulative toxic pollutants and aircraft noise in neighborhoods and other affected areas.
2. PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT
Improve public involvement in Long Beach Airport operations and infrastructure projects that impact the community.
Identify and minimize the cumulative impacts from Long Beach Airport that adversely affect the health of our community.
Promote a safe facility that recognizes the inherent risks associated with locating an airport in an urban area.
5. LAND USE
Attract and retain airport related businesses that serve the traveling public and that are compatible with the needs of the surrounding community.
Identify mitigation measures that address the negative impacts of the airport and airport related activities to surrounding communities including homes, schools and businesses.
7. FINANCIAL IMPACT
Financial plans for airport improvements should include appropriate contributions from airport users to minimize the City’s exposure to a fluctuating industry.
Establish a community-government partnership by taking a proactive position on understanding, preserving, protecting and defending the city of Long Beach noise ordinance.
9. AIRPORT MARKETING EFFORTS
The Airport shall not actively engage in marketing efforts to fill any airline slots without specific policy direction.
10. AIRPORT IMPROVEMENTS
Ensure that any improvements to Long Beach Airport will preserve those neighborhoods negatively impacted by airport activity, protect the existing noise ordinance, support the financial self-sufficiency of the airport while providing measurable economic benefits to the City, and its residents and businesses while protecting residents and local businesses. [This text went through multiple iterations; the text transcribed by Committee staff and the City Clerk may be slightly different.]