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    News in Depth

    Carroll, Colonna, Kell & Webb On Airport Report They Requested (Received 9-0 Council Vote) In May 2002 Re Airport's Effects...Still Undelivered

    (Oct. 18, 2003) -- posts below extended excerpts of statements made during the Oct. 14 City Council meeting by Vice Mayor Frank Colonna and Councilmembers Dennis Carroll, Jackie Kell and Rob Webb.

    As previously reported by, on May 14, 2002, the four Councilmembers co-agendized an item with the following memo:

    Request report from City Manager and City Attorney relating to environmental issues (E.I.R.) pertaining to the Long Beach Airport. This report should include an analysis of the environmental effects of 41 flights and possible economic impact upon adjoining property values.

    In presenting the item in May 2002, Councilman Carroll included the issue of particulates spewed into the atmosphere by jet fuel, including soot appearing on outdoor furniture, and Councilman Webb also voiced concern over airborne toxics.

    To view extended quoted passages of these four Councilmembers' May 2002 public statements in seeking a report (separate from a project-promoting EIR) on LB Airport's effects on residents, click here. The page also includes Councilman Carroll's Aug. 14, 2002 Council statement revealing that he had requested that the item "be held sort of in a holding pattern" in view of then-pending FAA negotiations.

    The FAA matter concluded in late April 2003. The Airport report requested by the Council roughly a year earlier was not publicly produced.

    Editorials by criticized the Council's conduct. The grassroots Airport monitoring group LBHUSH2 hammered away at the Council's failure to deliver the Airport report. As reported first by, for the October 14, 2003 Council meeting, Councilman Webb agendized an item with the following memo:

    On May 14, 2002, the City Council directed the City Manager to prepare a report regarding environmental issues pertaining to Long Beach Airport. This item was agendized jointly by me, Councilmembers Colonna, Carrol and Kell, and was passed unanimously.

    The report was to include an analysis of the environmental effects of 41 flights and the possible economic impact upon adjoining property values. During discussion of this item, Councilmembers indicated that the report should also address health and safety issues. I would like to know when we could expect the report to be presented to City Council and what it will encompass so that I can respond to inquiries from my constituents.

    I also recommend that the human impact and safety questions be added to the scope of the Airport Environmental Impact Report that is currently underway.

    The statements below were delivered at the October 14, 2003 Council meeting by the co-authors of the May 14, 2002 Council request for the Airport report. Our transcript below is unofficial, prepared by us; ellipses indicate deletions; bracketed material by us for clarity.

    Councilman Rob Webb

    [Mayor turns to Councilman Webb's agenda item]

    Councilman Webb: Well, I wanted, perhaps maybe we should hear from the City Manager at this point in time how they'd like to proceed. I want to see the report come forward that was requested. We probably need to define at some point in time exactly how...

    Mayor O'Neill [interrupted]: OK, that's all I need to know. Councilmember Carroll, did you have a comment?

    [Councilman Carroll's statement follows below]

    Councilman Dennis Carroll

    Councilman Carroll: ...With respect to Councilman Webb's issue, I do have a couple of comments if this would be the appropriate time.

    I think it's helpful to have a context within which that report was requested before we can make an informed decision about how we should proceed this evening.

    And the context is American Airlines in February of 2002 and then Alaska Airlines came knocking at our door demanding slots that we didn't have to give, and everyone became in a panic, including myself. And it became apparent that if American, who was the airline who basically dragged us through court and beat us over the head and won last time was prepared to go to court, we had a big problem on our hands, and that was the context within which I gave a speech, and I reviewed it on the tape the other day, about the potential calamitous effects on this community that was done, including issues with respect to our health and issues regarding the economic consequences.

    The immediate rallying point became not those two issues, the environmental issues, but how can we stave off a lawsuit, how can we marshall our resources to possibly secure an agreement among the airlines, the FAA and ourself and protect our noise ordinance, and we spent the better part of the last 18 months doing that.

    And I think what happened was the environmental consequences of this became not front and center, because we were trying to preserve the 41 flight limit, and I think now it is appropriate for us to proceed with that consideration inasmuch as I think we have prevailed. We have established that there is such an agreement that the FAA is willing to recognize, that we're grandfathered in, and now it's appropriate for us to address the environmental issues. We in at least one context are going to be exploring that with respect to the facilities enhancements that are underway, and I'm going to be bringing a motion in two weeks to consider establishing an airport study group.

    From my perspective, this issue has become so complex and polarized, and we have signs here tonight [from LBHUSH2, "Say NO to Airport Expansion. It will INCREASE noise and pollution & DECREASE property values."] that there's becoming more heat than light with respect to this issue. This is a city issue. It's a city airport. And it's my view, and I'm going to present it to the Council and the public, that what we would benefit from is a study committee of a cross-section of our community and several from each Council district that can assist us in trying to bring some resolution to the problems that we have, rather than beating each other up over these issues.

    It may slow down the Environmental Impact Report. It may delay the plans that the airlines hope to implement in terms of enhancing the passenger storage rooms, but I think it's worth it if the community can come together and resolve these issues rather than the course that we appear to be on now...

    It seems to me those environmental concerns can also be placed before such a study group and the public and appropriate experts can be brought forward to try and resolve this issue in a way we can all live with and protect our ordinance.

    The Mayor then turned to city management. Although Councilman Webb's item related to an Airport report separate from an EIR, city management gave a verbal presentation that discussed the EIR to be used regarding proposed permanent expansion of the Airport's terminal facilities. This was preceded by a written memo from city staff on the same subject distributed at the Council meeting and not available for prior public review.

    The EIR on the proposed permanent expansion of the Airport's terminal facilities was directed by the Council in Aug. 2002 after public outcry on learning (in a story first reported by that city staff did not plan to do any environmental review for the permanent terminal expansion project. Staff had previously done this regarding construction of temporary expanded facilities by quietly filing a "notice of exemption" asserting the ability to avoid environmental review. was the first LB media outlet to report City Hall's plans in July 02.

    At the Council's Oct. 14, 2003 meeting, Mr. Kunze said the proposed scope of the permanent terminal facilities expansion EIR is scheduled to come to the Council for a vote on or about Dec. 2, 2003 -- with the completed EIR most likely not available before January 2005. He continued:

    Mr. Kunze: Given that the project under consideration does not include a reassessment of the airline and other flight activities levels at the airport, and that it specifically gives consideration to facilities to accommodate current permitted activity and nothing more, it appears as though the scope of the proposed EIR may not be broad enough to address the questions regarding impacts beyond those resulting from the defined project.

    However, it is our recommendation to continue the public scoping process and identify the proposed EIR scope for a report back on Dec. 2. If the final proposed EIR scope does not cover all of the issues we have been led to understand them to be, we will provide additional options for the City Council's consideration at that time.

    The Airport terminal area enhancements EIR will provide a broad base of information from which project decisions can be made. In addition, other opportunities to solicit community input, including public meetings and even options such as developing a ballot measure to obtain formal constituent advice or direction, and the like, will certainly be within the future discretion of the City Council...

    Councilman Rob Webb

    Councilman Webb: ...With all due respect, and I'm qualifying how I'm going to say this here, I think the policy has been set,...four Councilmembers here made almost a year and a half ago made pretty strong remarks that, and I'll even quote here from Councilman Carroll at the time:

    [quoting Carroll from May 02] "It is my belief that those burdens can become so substantial that not only the health of our citizens there can be compromised, but ultimately the economic base" and it goes on to state "[This] is my belief that limiting this discussion to noise does a great disservice to the human dimensions of this issue." [applause]

    We had requested this information either in a separate report, I had suggested it could be folded into the EIR, but certainly a separate report that can be reviewed when it is completed.

    Then that's I guess the case. If we decided that we're not going to go forward with this and do an EIR, then we need to have a public meeting and just say that in public in front of everybody, 'cause I don't recall us setting that policy.

    [turning to management] And I want to be able to give you an opportunity that we're going to move forward with an analysis that the Council asked for a year and a half ago. I realize that you have only 45 days now before we give you direction based on what the entire scope of the EIR will include, so I'll defer to you for your suggestions at this point in time...

    Vice Mayor Frank Colonna (incl. colloquy w/ Councilman Webb)

    Vice Mayor Colonna: ...On the item of the environmental review that was just passe dout to us [management's memo], and I believe that it came to us now and I don't know if we're going to get any conclusion to Councilman Webb's request regarding to preparing a report, and I'd like to hear from the city manager...

    This particular item that we just received, it does indicate that the EIR will provide an inventory of existing pollutant emissions by source in the vicinity of the airport and then measure any change to those pollutants created by the proposed project. I presume that to be what we're discussing here in terms of trying to add the facility space to accommodate the existing flight agreements that we have with the FAA. Is that correct? [turns toward management; response off mike apparently affirmative]. OK. And then the other is, determination of existing ambient air quality in the vicinity of the airport and the quantification of existing emissions at the airport.

    So that's also going to be included in this EIR, the information, correct? [response off mike, apparently affirmative.

    So Councilmember Webb, in terms of what your interest is, your expectations are to develop a separate report aside from what this EIR is calling out to be presented to the public and for us to digest when we get to that point?

    Councilman Webb: What I'd like to see, first of all I don't know that the report, the environmental health impacts and the economic impacts that the EIR is calling for is sufficient compared to the request that we had put in back in May of 2002.

    Vice Mayor Colonna: But the item that we're speaking on is the issue regarding the structural components that we have that we're working forward to accommodate what our FAA requirements are...

    ...I see signs up here that say, "No Airport Expansion" and for the life of me, I've been on this Council for five years, I've never supported airport expansion and I'm seeing signs over here.

    Is this a referendum that's on the ballot in November?

    Councilman Webb: The EIR that you were referring to is dealing with the facilities, and certainly what the signs are talking about. The report that we requested is not necessarily the EIR that we requested. Back in May 2002, we asked for an environmental report from the staff on the environmental effects on humans as well as the economic impacts on folks that are impacted by the airport.

    We're doing an EIR right now that is going to discuss the issues that you were referring to, but if we want to add that report that the Council requested, that you had requested back in May of 2002 to the EIR, that's fine, either that or we will have that report separately...

    ...If we are going to include this health risk assessment that we're talking about here in the EIR we need to be able to get that into the scope of that EIR by December.

    Vice Mayor Colonna: ...It appears to me that we I think need to be legitimate about our discussion here tonight. And the legitimacy is that we're dealing with an EIR that is going to deal with human impact, and we are going to be bringing that forward. If your [Councilman Webb] interest is to have a separate study, I don't know what that study is going to do, personally. And we're had plenty of EIRs that we've had discussions with on this Council.

    I just want to make sure that we could stay within what our objective is here tonight which is getting something accomplished, but if we continue to take tangents and move off the road of discussion just because we have concerns that we aren't meeting what our obligations are, I think our obligations are going to be fulfilled by what the EIR is going to be calling out for, which is specifically by a proposed project that we have voted on on this Council.

    And if you're looking for what some of the other airports have had discussions on, and I've had conversation with the City Manager about, then I believe that that's what we ought to do and let's cut to the chase and find out what we're going to be doing in terms of providing that information as part of this EIR.

    City Manager Miller:...[Refers to memo to Council re scope of environmental analysis planned for EIR] The issue of adding further health-related analysis than may ordinarily be required for such an environmental impact report is the subject of that memo also obviously of a lot of discussion here tonight. It seems to me that if the City Council wants to add further health or economic analysis, then we'd be ready to offer some suggestions concerning that at the meeting of December 2 and further discuss at that point in time what the scope of the environmental review might be.

    I think with regard to the comment that there should be some additional comprehensive air quality review that transcends the effects of the airport so as to look at the I-710, the Port of LA-Long Beach, we're just not in a position to comment tonight as to the technical feasibility or the potential for engaging in such a study.

    Vice Mayor Colonna: ...I think that what Councilmember Carroll brought up just a little while ago, regarding the fact that perhaps we do need some type of a citizens advisory committee...because there is a lot of misinformation going on about this airport right now. And my concern is, is that there are people who are misunderstanding and misinterpreting what we need to stay with in terms of staying on course without colliding with the FAA. And I've had people tell me up to 200, 300 flights coming out of this airport. I don't know, I've never heard of that myself. There's a lot of misinformation coursing through the community right now, and I think we need to get back to where it belongs.

    ...I had that problem in my district with, we came up with an Alamitos Bay study group because it finally was tearing my district apart. And actually, by the time it was concluded with 19 citizens, we came up with getting the right information out to the public, the people understood clearly where we were going, and we achieved a comfort zone that resolved a lot of problems.

    But these issues coming up before this Council, probably now every third or fourth Council meeting, we're accomplishing nothing.

    Councilman Webb: With all due respect Councilmember Colonna, this is issues that this Council requested back in 2002 that is [applause] not significantly being addressed in the EIR.

    And if I can quote you from May 2002, you at that time said it was important that we not only [more applause] deal with the noise effects but of the other issues that come into play with the significant airline traffic that's coming into our community...

    Vice Mayor Colonna [interrupts]: Well Councilmember Webb, then you waited 16 months to bring that forward on the agenda...

    Councilman Webb: [continuing]...Well thank you. That significant airline impact is still coming into our community. This afternoon you made a suggestion that we model ourselves after what LAX has done, and Orange County and look at some of those models. I think that's an excellent suggestion...I would like to come back to the staff and ask if they would like to come back and give us some of these suggestions that we could either put into this report separately, or within the EIR, or both...

    Mayor O'Neill: ...Please help me with [the wording your motion] Councilmember Webb, this would be to prepare a report? Or to say that what you got this afternoon gave you some guidance for the December...

    Councilmember Webb: I'd like to ask the staff come back prior to give us...

    Mayor O'Neill: Is this before Dec. 2?

    Councilmember Webb: Yes. To be able to give us an opportunity to adjust, because I think you have a deadline, and I don't know how firm that deadline is of Dec. 2, but I would like to see some information, we have some opportunities to review some options so we can get it in either a separate report or within that EIR when we determine the scope on Dec. 2.

    Vice Mayor Colonna: Madam Mayor, if I might just comment. I spoke with Councilmember Webb earlier this afternoon about the possibility of looking at what LAX and Burbank and Ontario have done in terms of their risk assessments, so that we could bring some rational approach to what we have limits, and at the same time understand what these other airports are doing...

    Mayor O'Neill: You mean just to find out what they're doing, to find out things, not to use them as a model...

    Vice Mayor Colonna: Absolutely, to find out what is it that they have been doing because obviously they have been reporting to the FAA just like we would be reporting to the FAA...

    [intervening public testimony]

    Councilman Webb: ...I'm slow, but I get it right now, and what our constituents are wanting to see is some kind of real time information about the environmental effects on our health from the airport, from the 710, from the port, and I think we do owe them some response to these issues.

    It's almost like an informed consent kind of a deal. I don't think anybody here expects to close down the airport with that information, I don't think they expect to close the port with that information, but they feel like you gotta know where we're at to know where we're going to improve things and it's a piece of the puzzle that, as I said, was asked for a long time ago...

    ...I will now defer to our city manager...

    Vice Mayor Colonna: I just actually am eager to hear what the city manager has to say, because I definitely would support scoping this in a fashion that meets the needs of what our neighborhoods are concerned about because at the end of the line here, that's the make up of this entire city and I believe that what we need to do is get to the heart of the matter here, literally, and find out just what these issues are in terms of assessing the impact on the people who live in the city and I think we should fold that into this study.

    Councilwoman Jackie Kell

    ...Let's get on with this health report. They've asked for it. Councilmember Webb's asked for it, and I'm all for including it or adding on, so let's vote it in.

    The Council took the following actions:

  • Voted to receive and file a report reflecting empirical Airport noise monitoring under LB's Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance that showed from Oct 1/02-Sept. 30/03 commercial air carriers as a class (aircraft over 75,000 pounds) exceeded the Ordinance's noise budget. That means no additional flights (beyond 41 slots for aircraft over 75,000 pounds) are being allocated in 2004. (For coverage, click here)

  • Voted to ask city management to return with options on how best to study LB air pollution encompassing not only the airport, but the Port and 710 freeway. The motion, made on the floor by Councilwoman Laura Richardson, was spurred by the public testimony.

  • Voted to seek a city management report on items related to stricter enforcement of the Airport's nighttime curfew (agenda item by Councilman Carroll).

  • Voted (motion by Councilman Webb) to ask City Manager to return on Dec. 2 with suggestions for the Council to review that will discuss further health and economic analysis options, either to be included in the proposed scope of the EIR related to expansion of the Airport terminal facilities, or as a separate study.

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