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    News in Depth

    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 29, 2004) -- LB City Hall management, via its Airport Bureau, has proposed expanding LB's Airport permanent terminal area facilities to nearly four times the size of the airport's current permanent terminal facilities -- from 34,570 sq. ft. to 133,243 sq. ft. The increase amounts to over twice the Airport's current operational capacity (combined permanent plus temporary facilities) of 58,320 sq ft.

    Airport management's proposal includes an increase in concession space by nearly five times from the current 5,460 sq. ft. to 25,460 sq. ft. JetBlue Airways, the airport's largest volume commercial carrier, has recommended concession space totaling 30,000 sq. ft.

    Management also proposes to increase parking, via with a major new parking structure, to 6,286 sq. ft. The airport's current parking structure is 2,831 sq. ft...with 2,104 sq. ft of parking currently in remote lots off-airport.

    Airport management's proposal, released at a June 17 meeting of the Mayor-appointed, Council-approved "Airport Advisory Commission," is larger in several respects than the project described less than a year ago (Sept. 2003) in City Hall's own Notice of Preparation for the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for expanding the Airport's permanent terminal area facilities. has prepared a comparison of some salient items, below.

    DescriptionExisting Facilities Incl. Temporary Modular BldgsHNTB Calculated Facility Reqts (prior to HNTB recommended downsizing)City of LB proposed (Sept. 22/03) EIR Notice of Prep. & ScopingHNTB Recommended (May 14/04)JetBlue Proposed (May 27/04)LB Airport Mgt. Recommended (June 17/04)
    Holdrooms (total)19,650 sq. ft.41,334 sq. ft.26,500 sq. ft.32,950 sq. ft.41,334 sq. ft.32,950 sq.ft.
    Passenger Security Screening5,900 sq. ft.9,100 sq. ft. (not incl. passenger queuing)6,000 sq. ft.10,000 sq. ft.10,000 sq. ft.10,000 sq.ft.
    Concession Area5,460 sq. ft.25,531 sq. ft.13,460 sq. ft.25,460 sq. ft.30,000 sq. ft.25,460 sq.ft.
    Baggage Security Screening5,000 sq.ft.9,574 sq. ft.7,000-10,000 sq. ft.7,000-10,000 sq. ft.10,000 sq. ft.10,000 sq. ft.
    Office space (total)12,570 sq. ft.33,250 sq. ft.20,000 sq. ft.28,500 sq. ft.*Not specified in JetBlue handout35,470 sq. ft.

    Sources: HNTB Passenger Terminal Improvements -- Facility Comparison, Table 4 (May 14, 2004); JetBlue handout "Our Proposal for LGB," May 27, 2004; LB Airport Mgt. Airport Advisory Comm'n Presentation, June 17, 2004

    *Airport spokesperson Diggs-Jackson tells that HNTB's 28,500 sq. ft is not inconsistent with Airport management's recommended 35,470 sq. ft. because airport management simply itemized a figure intended, but not separately itemized, in HNTB's report. posts Airport management's recommendation in detail in pdf form on a link below.

    LB Airport's current mix of permanent and temporary facilities handles 41 daily large aircraft commercial flights, some say with passenger inconvenience. JetBlue, which helped facilitate construction of what were then called modular temporary buildings, has more recently described them as "trailers" and cited passenger inconvenience as a reason to replace them.

    LB Airport also currently has 25 vacant regional (less than 75,000 pound) daily aircraft flight slots that are legally allowed but not currently filled or operating.

    LB Airport management says its recommendations assume replacement of the current temporary facilities and remote off-airport parking with the permanent facilities.

    Following-up on a recommendation from LBHUSH2, Airport management proposes "phasing" the project to provide permanent facilities for the 41 large aircraft flights first.

    The decision on how to size the proposed airport terminal area facilities expansion will ultimately be made by the City Council. Management says that based on figures the Council approves, a specific design layout will be prepared (it says there isn't one yet, just a flat square footage theoretical alternative).

    Based on the still to-be-released design, City Hall will then issue an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), a document that will include alternatives and is required before construction can begin. The public can comment on the EIR, after which the Council will decide whether to certify the EIR and proceed with the expansion.

    Airport management's recommendations, publicly released at the June 17 meeting of LB's Airport Advisory Commission, largely parallel those of HNTB, an architectural, planning and engineering firm hired by the Airport that has designed and built other major projects nationally -- including airports elsewhere and major parts of the Alameda Corridor locally.

    HNTB's recommendations, dated May 14, were publicly released May 17. HNTB designs and builds major projects, including airports, and played a major role in building the Alameda Corridor.

    HNTB says its recommendations assume operation of all of LGB's current legally allowed noise budgeted daily flight slots (41+25=66) and applied FAA recommendations and what it calls industry standards. The firm said it adjusted its final LB recommendation downward to reflect physical constraints of the LB Airport site.

    Airport management's recommendation assumes 4.25 million annual passengers if all 66 flight slots are filled and operating, an increase from the 3.8 million annual passengers which the Airport publicly projected for years...until recently. In May 2004, was the first LB media outlet to report that management used the 4.2 million annual passenger figure in a meeting with prospective concessionaires. Airport management says its new, larger figure results from updated data reflecting newer aircraft designs and empirical experience of higher load factors. Airport management's new passenger forecast also parallels 4.2 million annual passengers forecast for 66 flights by HNTB, citing similar factors, in its May 2004 report.

    During a public opportunity to ask Airport Manager Kunze questions at the June 17 "Airport Advisory Commission" meeting, noted that numbers recommended by Airport management are significantly larger than what it proposed in its own Notice of EIR Preparation (less than a year ago in Sept. 2003). asked, "If these [numbers] really are based on so-called industry standards that are mathematically derived, what accounts for that inflation?" Airport Manager Kunze replied:

    Mr. Kunze: Back when the original NOP [Notice of Preparation] was developed, was before we had 41 flights, before we had American Airlines with 757's for example, and it was based on basically a terminal facilities plan that had its genesis back in the late 1990s, I think it was 1998 when it started, where we had one holdroom concept.

    From that time, several things happened, it's based on a learning curve, and it's also based on industry standards which we weren't applying at the time.

    Number 1, there's 9-11, and the fact that there are no significantly greater requirements for both passenger screening and baggage screening that we didn't have back then.

    And again, we as a city can choose to go with the requirements that TSA [Transportation Security Agency] provides to us, or we can choose to not do that, but our recommendation is when it comes to security and safety, we should go with the Homeland Security's recommendations, that's still just our recommendation.

    Number 2, we have load factors [percentage of filled seats on aircraft] we had no concept about, the industry load factors for example in the 1980s and early 90s when we had 41 flights, the average load factor was in the 50%. Now during the summer, we're looking at 80% to 90% loads and for the last year our average load factor was 83% which is must higher than the industry.

    The other major differential is the size of the aircraft. Back in the late 1990s, we didn't have any A-320s, we didn't have any 757 operations. The ones that we had were 737s and MD-80s. The aircraft have significantly upsized, so I think those are probably the key drivers.

    The other thing, Bill, that we learned from was because we had to respond quickly to a degree of growth and we ended up with two, temporary rented modular structures, one on each side of the terminal building, we learned that because of the constraints of the existing terminal building, it's best to disperse the traffic that way as opposed to funneling everybody that checks in at the north side or the south side of the terminal and funneling them all through the same way in the terminal through one exit door and through one screening area.

    So I think it's just a learning curve based on newer information. The information is what it is. The standards are what they are, and they can either be taken and run with, or not, but we feel it's a more appropriate and better size than our original NOP was.

    LBHUSH2 leader Rae Gabelich, elected to the 8th district City Council seat on June 8 and due to be sworn into office in mid-July, has repeatedly urged completion of a human health risk assessment before any permanent expansion work is begun. In May 2002, the Council voted unanimously (motion by Colonna, Carroll, Kell and Webb) to seek a report detailing the airport's effects on homeowners' health and home values. The report was never delivered.

    Under pressure from LBHUSH2 and Ms. Gabelich, the Council voted in late 2003 to produce a report -- using data culled and analyzed from existing studies -- on LB air quality as impacted by LB Airport, the Port of LB and surrounding area freeways.

    On June 24, 2004, LB city management issued a press release entitled, "Comprehensive Human Health Risk Assessment" public meeting to be held July 1 (from 6-8 p.m. at the Miller Family Health Education Center, 3820 Cherry Ave.)

    The Council had been set to vote in Dec. 03 on issues to be included within an EIR for the smaller Sept. 03 version of the project. Public testimony -- often passionate and opposed to airport expansion -- was taken on the issue at two well attended formal scoping meetings, after which Councilman Dennis Carroll proposed that airport terminal issues be sent to a blue ribbon style body. The Council referred the issue to its "Airport Advisory Commission" whose Mayor nominated, Council-approved members have no substantive power other than to make recommendations back to the Council that appointed them.

    The Council's referral effectively delayed a Council vote on the hot button airport terminal issue for over half a year...past the April and June 04 Council elections (in which incumbents Dennis Carroll and Rob Webb were denied a second term.)

    Airport management has recommended that the Airport Advisory Commission transmit the following to the Council (along with EIR scope and other study recommendations which will be forthcoming):

    • The Scope of the Terminal Improvements should be as indicated on the pdf document linked here.

    • Recommend that a phase-in plan for commuter airline-related facilities be developed, and that the Airport Advisory Commission be tasked to generate a recommended protocol for aligning commuter slot allocation with availability of related facility capacity.

    • State that the "Airport Advisory Commission believes that actual design of terminal improvements is critical to ensuring facilities that are in keeping with the Airport's unique history and architecture, and as such, recommends that the Airport Advisory Commission and Cultural Heritage Commission jointly establish a design review and input process which allows for timely progress while at the same time results in a product of which Long Beach community can be proud."

    A vote by recommendations by the "Airport Advisory Commission" to the City Council is expected on July 15.

    Then the Council -- with new Councilmembers Rae Gabelich and Patrick O'Donnell -- will take up consideration of the Airport following the Council's self-created nearly eight month delay.

    Related coverage:

  • 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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