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    LB Chamber Urges Council To "Immediately Initiate" EIR Process To Expansion Of Airport's Permanent Terminal Area Facilities And Consider All Options

    (January 27, 2005) -- The LB Area Chamber of Commerce has sent a letter urging members of the LB City Council and Mayor Beverly O'Neill to "immediately initiate" the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process "and consider ALL [emphasis in original] the options" presented by the Airport Advisory Commission for "a complete study and evaluation." posts the Chamber's letter dated January 25 below:

    [begin text]

    January 25, 2005

    Honorable Mayor O’Neil
    Members of the City Council

    RE: Long Beach Airport Environmental Impact Report

    On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce (The Chamber) and its 1,800 members, we are writing today to respectfully urge you to move forward with the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Long Beach Airport.

    Since the original proposal was to be brought before the City Council in December 2003, there have been hundreds of hours of community input provided on the proposed terminal improvements. After one year of hearings and study sessions, attended by both the residential and business community alike, the Airport Advisory Commission (AAC) voted in support of the staff preferred recommendations. This preference, along with the complete list of scoping alternatives and suggestions, were submitted to your Council.

    The Chamber has previously gone on record and has detailed our position on the terminal improvement project. We now request that you immediately initiate the EIR process and consider ALL the options presented to by the AAC for a complete study and evaluation. We would hope that you would support the AAC’s commitment and consider the merits of evaluating the full range of sizing alternatives, from zero to the maximum, and that the EIR should consider this range prior to any design/project approval.

    We recognize the need to mitigate against any threat to our coveted noise ordinance, designed to protect and guide our airport’s growth. We believe that the business and residential communities would best be served in having the EIR consider ALL the options without the need for your Council to now vote on a preferred scooping option.

    The current permanent facilities at the Long Beach Airport were designed to accommodate only fifteen (15) airline flights and the increased passenger demands and congestion in these facilities cannot be ignored. It is the long-standing position of the Chamber that the temporary facilities, which include tents, trailers, and mobile office structures currently in place, are inconvenient and do not adequately provide the level of facilities needed for the traveling public, the citizens of Long Beach, as well as promote the image of California’s fifth largest city. The current facilities are clearly unsustainable for long-term use.

    We support any objective that will maximize the airport’s economic development opportunities in balance with the need to protect the noise ordinance and our residents’ quality of life. Moving forward with the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on February 8, 2005, and studying all of the options presented to you will assure this balance without any delay in considering the improvements that all of Long Beach can enjoy.

    Lou Anne Bynum
    Chairman of the Board
    Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce

    Randy Gordon
    President and CEO
    Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce

    Curt Castagna
    Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce
    Airport Area Business Council


    Members, Long Beach Chamber Board of Directors
    Members, Long Beach Chamber Government Affairs Council
    Jerry Miller, Long Beach City Manager
    Chris Kunze, Manager, Long Beach Airport
    Larry Herrera, Long Beach City Clerk

    The Chamber's correspondence follows September 16, 2004 testimony to the "Airport Advisory Commission" by Chamber governing board chair Lou Anne Bynum, stating:

    ...I am here tonight on behalf of the Chamber and its more than 1,900 business members to encourage you to continue to support the scope of renovation outlined in the Staff Recommended Facilities Plan.

    The current permanent facilities at the Long Beach Airport were designed to accommodate only fifteen (15) airline flights and the last permanent addition was done over twenty (20) years ago. Temporary facilities -- tents, trailers, and mobile office structures currently in place -- are inconvenient and don’t come close to providing an adequate level of service and facilities needed for the traveling public and the residents of Long Beach. Nor do they promote the image of California’s fifth largest city.

    We are in complete agreement that the City of Long Beach should only permit flights within the confines of the current City of Long Beach FAA approved Noise Ordinance -- and we support terminal facility improvements with a design that stays within 41 commercial and 25 commuter daily flights.

    With that in mind, the current facilities cannot reasonably accommodate the existing demands in the terminal at current peak periods. The Airport is a key gateway to the City and region and a first impression to passengers. It is also a critical economic development anchor for our entire City, the downtown area, the Convention Center and the Port.

    In 1998, hundreds of people worked over the course of many months to develop the 2010 Strategic Plan for the entire City. Under Goal I: Economic Opportunity for All, a statement was made re the Airport’s role in business development based on our City’s strengths. I quote: "Develop a strategy for land use at the Airport that maximizes the economic return to the community."

    This renovation project does exactly that -- it improves the service and conditions at the Airport to maximize usage and economic return while ensuring that the current noise ordinance is not violated. Linking this project to the 2010 Plan in this manner is a clear example of responsible economic development that takes into consideration the concerns of all the residents in Long Beach.

    Regarding improvements and scope. We are not talking about "over the top, extravagant accommodations." We are talking about clean, decent, convenient accommodations for the passengers that use the airport -- again -- staying within the confines of the current noise and flight ordinance. The proposed reductions substantially undermine the improved quality of basic services that are essential to any airport. The only places to cut -- hold rooms and concession areas -- are those that would offer the most benefit to passengers. In addition, the reductions to the concession area -- eliminating specialty retail and reducing concession seating area -- reduces the projected revenue to the City. We all know the pain involved in budget cuts. This flies in the face of good judgment -- both in terms of decent customer service and with regard to appropriate avenues to increase the general fund revenue.

    Let me also say something about the concerns expressed by residents re air quality. It is ridiculous to think that the Chamber is against clean air or efforts to improve our air quality. All of us want a good quality of life. We recognize, however, that quality of life issues like this are significant public policy issues that go way beyond the Port or the Airport for that matter. Our very large region is thoroughly congested with traffic of all kinds and the air is unhealthy throughout the southland. To try to solve this regional problem by attempting to limit reasonable improvements at the Airport -- within a hard fought and currently protected noise and flight ordinance -- is very short sighted.

    And we think it is misplaced. None of us want the federal government to step in and dictate what usage our airport should support. By not reasonably managing our own development needs at the Airport, which protects our hard fought flight and noise ordinance, we open the door to possible intrusion by the government. There are a lot of concerns that people have raised that are way beyond the scope of this project.

    The Chamber asks that you support the proposed scope of renovation. It is an economic development issue for our City and it is the right decision for you.

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