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    Some "Speak Out" Comments on LB Airport The PT Didn't Print

    (May 11, 2003, updated May 12) -- We post below "SpeakOut" comments on LB Airport that the Press-Telegram did not print on May 10.

    In posting an initial comment, we asked our readers if they had submitted "SpeakOut" comments on the Airport issue that weren't printed. We post below submissions and related comment we received.

    Cyber news sources such as have an advantage over traditional newspapers: we are not limited by how much we can fit on a printed page.

    The PT framed its Airport question as follows:

    "If noise studies show that Long Beach airport could handle more flights, would you (a) rejoice at the convenience of more flights to more destinations? (b) scream bloody murder? or (c) shrug it off, since it matters not a whit how many flights use LGB? Why do you feel the way you do - and how do you feel about expanding the airport to accommodate jetways, for example?"
    On May 10, the PT published ten signed responses, all opposed to Airport expansion. It published nine unsigned responses, seven of which supported Airport expansion. The PT said written replies "were overwhelmingly against airport expansion, while many of the anonymous replies were in favor of airport expansion."

    [Begin unpublished submissions to PT]

    Your latest biased Airport "Speakout" spins the issue as "convenience" versus homeowners but doesn't mention secured property tax is LB's top General Fund revenue source. As of this writing, the PT still hasn't told its readers about plans for 200,000 gallons of above-ground jet fuel storage tanks west of Lakewood Blvd near runway 25R. You haven't quoted the sickening FAA letter to LB, preferring your filtered version and quotes from incumbent politicians congratulating themselves.

    LB cannot afford to become a smaller version of Newark by the Sea, which is what City Hall has invited regardless of its stated intent. We need a ballot measure taking land use away from politicians and putting to a public vote major plans for the Airport, beachfront and other citywide development.

    Traci Wilson-Kleekamp

    [Ms. Wilson-Kleekamp, a 4th Council district homeowner and president of the Stearns Park Neighborhood Association, did not self-identify herself as such. She did provide her street address, indicating her location in relation to the Airport, a factor the PT considered relevant on its question. The area is not far from the Traffic Circle between Lakewood Blvd. & Clark Ave., south of Stearns St.]

    I live about two miles directly west of the airport and can't even carry on a normal conversation when a "quiet" JetBlue Airbus flys over. Living closer must be unbearable.

    It is hard to imagine any city along the Southern California coast, known world-wide for its pleasant environment, wanting more noisy, air-polluting jetliners. But our city actually conducted a marketing campaign to fill the open slots, and is making improvements to airport facilities -- certainly not the actions of officials really wanting to limit flights.

    I think the noise studies will show that the flight cap can rise. Why do I feel the way I do? Has anyone ever seen a study conducted by the city or their consultant that said an action they want to take shouldn't be taken?

    "Scream bloody murder" would seem to be the best option -- except Long Beach never listens to residents' cries for help if there is a chance to obtain more money for city officials to spend.

    Richard Gutmann

    We live in Bixby Knolls about one mile from the end of the main runway and experience over 40 examples every day of what it's like co-existing with flights passing overhead. They start a few minutes after 7:00AM and continue until 10:00PM (often later). Sure, it's a real annoyance and it disrupts reading the paper at breakfast, working from the home office, having dinner outside with friends, and even watching a little TV in the evening. But knowing we live in an urban area we're prepared to accept and deal with noise of one type or another.

    However, we have every right to insist on a serious ongoing effort by our City Council and City Management to balance the interests that benefit, or suffer from our airport's operation. These interests are; the economic benefits flowing to the city, the comfort and convenience of travelers using the airport, and the quality of life in neighborhoods impacted by airport operations. We're spending millions on airport construction to improve "comfort and convenience" and we're anticipating millions of dollars in economic benefits. But what are we doing to mitigate the quality of life impacts on our neighborhoods? It's ironic that you'll find over 80 references to "neighborhoods" in our Long Beach 2010 Strategic Plan, but only 4 relating to the airport! Should the City Council lead a legitimate effort to balance benefits and liabilities, I believe the current flight ordinance is livable.

    The real issue is that the airport manager will not identify the "maximum" number of flights the airport can accommodate when all the proposed improvements are completed. I recall our airport somehow handled 41 commercial flights per day in 1989...what will that number become when we finish "super sizing" the airport? The assertion by some that a maximum flight number is irrelevant due to our noise ordinance is myopic thinking at best and political demagoguery at worst. The City Council can change the noise ordinance to permit more flights any time there are five votes cast in favor...The airlines continue to have the option to sue for more flight slots in the courts...The only hard flight level management variable we control is the physical infrastructure of the airport. For every square foot we expand the airport terminal we directly increase the risk of additional flights. Our City Councilpersons must put their own political careers at the same risk as our quality of life and pledge to immediately resign from office if for any reason the noise ordinance is changed to permit additional flights.

    Bruce Alton
    Rick Alsagoff

    The recent agreement between Long Beach (i.e., City Hall), the FAA, and three airlines offers flimsy protection at best for the besieged residents whose homes completely encircle what was designed to be and should remain an airfield for private and industrial aviation. While gleefully highlighting what will likely be short-term relief from reckless airport expansion, city officials have chosen to remain silent about the ominous elements included in the FAA's letter to the city regarding the agreement. To hear Mayor O'Neill and her council cadre declare themselves as saviors for airport-impacted neighborhoods is an insult; it's like having someone cut the brake lines on your car and then having that person provide first aid after your car smashes into a tree.

    It is likely most Long Beach residents, not caring a whit about the devastating burdens commercial aviation places on residential neighborhoods, will buy into Mayor O'Neill's dubious theory that commercial aviation at Long Beach Airport is necessary for the economic success of the city (i.e., O'Neill's political ego). However, the following facts are indisputable: The city of Long Beach, by irresponsibly leasing 27 slots to JetBlue in 2001, knowingly exposed the city to legal and market forces that would grotesquely expand the scope of commercial aviation at Long Beach Airport; the FAA's assertion that the back room policy contortions perpetrated by the city of Long Beach which allowed JetBlue to slither into town likely violated Federal law; the city is not protected by last weeks agreement from an airline outside of the settlement to bring suit against the city demanding access to the airport; and most egregious and inexcusable of all, recent and current Long Beach elected officials have taken actions and implemented policy that directly, deliberately, and relentlessly threaten the emotional and physical health of Bixby Knolls and Los Altos residents.

    It is painfully obvious my well-being and that of my many neighbors have become acceptable collateral damage in City Hall's foolish and perilous strategy regarding the airport. Therefore, when I move from Bixby Knolls, I will move from Long Beach altogether. There is no incentive to remain in a city that places the welfare of corporations and the tourism industry above that of its citizens.

    Jim Cirillo

    Additional Comment, Not Submitted to PT But Separately Submitted To

    I never respond to the taunting questions presented in the Press-Telegram's "Speakout." In my opinion, the questions too often seem framed so as to incite nasty fights. The good people of Long Beach deserve to read and participate in a serious dialogue about serious issues that impact our economy, health and safety. Thank you for publishing the letter from a 4th District resident and for your service to the community in publishing factual information.

    Sue Lavia
    4th District, Long Beach

    If you've submitted comments to the PT's "SpeakOut" section that weren't published, we'd like to see them. Forward them to us by email at or fax at (562) 429-8255.

    And please provide a contact number where we can reach you.

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