(November 23, 2002) -- Vowing to push to limit airport growth and development, the grassroots homeowner and taxpayer group LBHUSH2 has hired legal counsel, formally incorporated as a non-profit entity...and is moving to challenge City Hall's de facto monopoly to date on holding public meetings on airport issues.
In a release announcing the developments, LBHUSH2 said it has scheduled two upcoming community meetings at which it plans to introduce its legal counsel and advise residents of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process City Hall must follow in any attempt to expand LB Airport facilities that creates significant impacts, and the legal rights of LB citizens to be involved in the EIR process.
The meetings are scheduled for
- Wednesday, December 4th at Bixby Elementary School 5251 Stearns 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
- Thursday, December 5th at Hughes Middle School 3846 California Avenue. 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
LBHUSH2 said it has "secured a nonprofit public benefit corporation status 501(c)(4) through the State of California. The purpose of the organization is to safeguard the quality of life of Long Beach citizens and to provide education to the public about the impact of governmental policies and activities."
LBHUSH2 also disclosed in its release that it has met with 8th District City Councilman, Rob Webb, City Hall's Director of Public Works, Ed Shikada, and Environmental Planning Officer, Gary Felgemaker, "to discuss the framework of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) promised by the city on the Long Beach Airport expansion project."
City Hall has denied trying to "expand" the airport, portraying its actions as "enhancements" to accommodate anticipated passenger increases within LB's currently enacted noise budgeted flight limits.
Earlier this year, a story first reported in detail by LBReport.com disclosed plans to enlarge terminal area passenger holding and baggage handling facilities...and City Hall took the position it wasn't required to do further environmental review on the project.
Controversy soon swirled, culminating at the August 27 City Council meeting at which LBHUSH2 supporters filled the Council chamber to standing room only level.
At that meeting, the Council refused to enact a moratorium on facilities expansion sought by LBHUSH2 and voted 5-3 (Yes: Lowenthal, Colonna, Kell, Richardson-Batts, Lerch; No: Baker, Carroll, Webb; Uranga absent) to approve so-called "temporary" expanded facilities (which city staff had elsewhere admitted could be used for many years.) The vote, which came late in the meeting when only roughly a dozen LBHUSH2 activists remained, was followed by chants of "Recall, recall!"
The Council did agree to conduct a formal EIR before proceeding with what City Hall called permanent expanded facilities (8-0, Reyes-Uranga absent).
During the Council meeting, city staff admitted that the temporary and permanent expanded facilities were not mandated by federal law but were being undertaken by City Hall basically for the comfort and convenience of passengers (some staff said "safety"). The Press-Telegram editorialized in favor of the facilities expansion.
In a written release, LBHUSH2 said its purpose is "to safeguard the quality of life of Long Beach citizens and to provide education to the public about the impact of governmental policies and activities." Ms. Rae Gabelich, who was instrumental in forming the organization, said, "Our intent is to represent homeowners not only in regard to airport issues, but also in other projects that may negatively impact Long Beach residents."