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    Over 200 Attend Second Airport EIR Scoping Meeting:

  • LB Council Of PTA Urges Inclusion of Health Study
  • Numerous Speakers Decry Pollution, Voice Concern Over Airport Growth
  • FAA Certificated Pilot Hands $500 Check To LBHUSH2
  • Some Shouts For Council Recall

    LGB scoping meeting, Oct 16/03(Oct. 17, 2003) -- Over 200 people turned out on October 16 (a weekday evening) -- causing officials to scramble to provide additional chairs and move tables to handle the crowd -- for the second of two meetings to collect public input on the scope of an Environmental Impact Report accompanying a City Hall favored expansion of LB Airport's terminal facilities.

    LGB scoping meeting, Oct 16/03The meeting, at the LB Energy Dept. auditorium (room capacity 250) reached standing room only levels (with tables taking up some of the space).

    The man wearing the blue shirt (photo, center), holding a clip board and standing along the back wall is Terry Jensen, who's running for the 8th district City Council seat now held by Rob Webb (who also attended the meeting.)

    Unlike an Oct. 11 meeting at which officials first tried to channel public comment away from a microphone, speakers at this meeting were encouraged to be heard. A number of speakers -- including the LB Council of the PTA (details below) decried Airport related pollution and insisted its effects be included in the EIR. As currently proposed by city staff (the City Council gets the last word the EIR's scope on or about Dec. 2) the EIR won't include such a study on grounds the expanded terminal facilities won't affect current flight levels.

    That point was disputed by several audience members who noted that increasing capacity to accommodate 41 + 25 daily flights at 100% capacity could permit two or three times that number much as the current terminal (designed to handle about 15 daily flights) now handles nearly 41/day by running over capacity.

    One speaker said, "You are attempting to expand the airport to accommodate what is already an untenable situation. [applause] Expanding the airport to accommodate what we have now...It's going to make a larger advantage to the FAA [and] airlines coming in and saying, 'Hey, you were able to do 41 with what you had and now you ought to be able to handle more flights. We're terrified by this development."

    Airport Manager Chris Kunze offered his opinion in response:

    I think there's no definitive answer other than the only thing that controls the amount of flight activity at Long Beach, other than the marketplace, is the [LB] Noise Compatibility Ordinance...As a community that is our best bet for protecting us in the future. And it is something we need to be watching in the future, because on a regional basis, for those of you who are tracking this, there is currently a problem, and there will be a problem in the future, in terms of airport capacity. Right now, we and John Wayne [Orange County airport] are the only two airports that have federally recognized noise controls, and the only basis for that control is noise, and that was really generated over 13 years of litigation...

    John Wayne is also grandfathered [as Long Beach is] although they have about three times more, almost four times more activity, than we do. There's really no case in U.S. history where the federal government has come in and forced people to take more activity because of your capacity...

    Our basis for local control is our noise ordinance which is grandfathered in, and if we increase the size of our holdroom by 5% or 10%, it's my opinion -- again, it's only my opinion -- that's not going to have any basis for anybody coming in and suing to be able to get more flights into the airport. We have to stand by our noise ordinance which is the basis for local control.

  • Among those testifying:

    • The Long Beach Council of the PTA reiterated its call (first made at the October 14 City Council meeting in discussion of a separate report on Airport effects requested by the Council in May '02 and still not provided) for inclusion of a health impact study. Some excerpts from a letter submitted for inclusion in the record:

      The Long Beach Council PTA members are greatly concerned about the growing and insufficiently managed pollution generated by industry and transportation in general and by the Long Beach airport in particular.

      We are convinced that the environmental impact report currently under way, first and foremost, must include a health impact study...

      ...In additional to physiological health risks, the scope of the current EIR must include an assessment of the increased stress and anxiety level in children as a result of pollution related ailments, as well as the impact of high noise levels on their ability to learn. A number of our Long Beach schools, whose PTAs we represent, have reported noise levels so great that instruction must be stopped when a plane flies overhead. In addition, parents report that their children's sleeping patterns are disrupted by excessive airplane noise.

      Moreover, any environmental impact study must be based on the most current scientific information, as well as the most recent, actually measured, noise levels. The latest EIR of the airport, conducted in 1995, did not recognize diesel emissions as a regulated, toxic substance...

      LGB scoping meeting, Oct 16/03

    • Larry Mebust (at microphone, left), an FAA certificated pilot (who doesn't fly jets but has 17,000+ incident free hours) urged that the impacts of diverting large jet aircraft onto alternate runway 25R -- usually used only by smaller aircraft and nearly 3/4 of a mile shorter than main runway 30/12 -- be included in the EIR.

      Mr. Mebust said City Hall had filed a document [in Dec. 2002] claiming exemption from environmental review for its main runway 30/12 rehab project which didn't mention diverting flights onto runway 25R [a decision publicly announced in Aug-Sept. 2003]. He noted that the current EIR being done for permanent expanded facilities resulted after public outcry over a similarly stealthful use of a CEQA exemption to permit the current "temporary" expanded facilities without public discussion of the impacts.

      "The city's conduct to date has been despicable in this," Mr. Mebust said. As previously reported by, on Sept. 23, 2003 Mr. Mebust testified at the LB City Council that he considered use of runway 25R by large jets unsafe and described its major impacts. LB Airport Manager Chris Kunze replied that runway 25R meets federal safety standards and is approved as an alternate runway.

      The Council went on to approve the resurfacing plan 6-2 (Uranga & Webb dissenting, Lerch absent) with the diversions...which will send approaching large jets over a large chunk of the 5th Council district (aligned about a block or two north of Wardlow Rd. from roughly El Dorado Park west to the Airport) with takeoffs skimming rooftops in the 7th and 8th Council districts through Cal Hts. and southern Los Cerritos. This will take place for seven to eight weeks of scheduled Saturdays, plus a year of possible unscheduled flights between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Airport management is working to avoid the unscheduled flights.

      Mebust, a Cal. Hts. resident, is so concerned about large jet use of 25R that he is building a web site -- (Cal Hts. no jets) -- devoted exclusively to the subject.

      After urging that the EIR include the impacts of diversions onto shorter runway 25R, Mr. Mebust declared he was putting his "money where his mouth is"...and handed a $500 check to LBHUSH2.

    • A number of speakers cited personal examples of particulate pollution and filth. A Bixby Knolls resident displayed a cloth used to dust her patio furniture, stained with black soot-like deposits. A Los Altos resident displayed a T-shirt (also shown at the Oct. 14 Council meeting) that she said was doused by a substance spewed from an incoming aircraft over CSULB. She said:

      "I hose my patio furniture off every couple of days...Our kids are breathing this pollution. We're maxed out already with noise and pollution [applause] and at nighttime we cannot get a decent night's sleep...We just cannot allow this expansion. I'm scared and I'm tired of this situation and we've got to cut back this airport, not enlarge it. [loud cheers and applause].

      LGB scoping meeting, Oct 11/03

    • LBHUSH2 president Rae Gabelich, whose grassroots group monitors Airport activities and opposes Airport expansion, ridiculed a proposal by 4th district Councilman Dennis Carroll to create a City Council and Mayor appointed "blue ribbon" advisory committee that would report to another advisory committee to deal with the issues.

      "I don't think we need another layer of political difficulty," Ms. Gabelich said to applause, adding, "It creates and expands the delay tactics, and we need to have action now and we need to be able to go on with our lives and know that we're protected and our concerns are being addressed."

      LGB scoping meeting, Oct 16/03Councilman Carroll, who faces reelection in April 2004, took notes during the proceeding and watched without comment as his proposal (which he has agendized for the Oct. 21 Council meeting) produced some audible displeasure in the crowd.

      Councilman Carroll stated in an Oct. 11 publicly distributed letter addressed to Los Altos residents that "the number of flights at our airport is determined exclusively by our noise ordinance and measured flight noise." ( has posted the letter in its entirety on the preceding hyperlink.)

      LGB scoping meeting, Oct 16/03However 4th district Council candidate and Los Altos resident Patrick O'Donnell stated:

      I think we need to recognize the reason we're here tonight, and that is because the City Council has given the Airport Manager the directive maximizing the use of the Airport. That's why we're here, it's plain and simple. We don't need another committee, we just need people who have the ability to say no.

      ...What I want the EIR to account for is the total number of flights the facility would hold with no noise ordinance, because someday, someone's going to challenge it. When it goes away, what happens to us? If you build it, they will come. [applause]

      LGB scoping meeting, Oct 16/03

    • Prefacing her remarks by noting she was speaking as an individual and not representing organized real estate, veteran Bixby Knolls, Virginia Country Club, Cal. Hts area realtor Barbara Shoag (in photo, speaking prior to realtor Mike Kowal) said:
      In the past few months, we've had over a dozen calls from people saying they're worried about airport expansion...We've already listed and sold three homes for people who are worried about the Airport...

      ...I'm not sure how to include this in the EIR, but there are wonderful neighborhoods on both sides of the Airport with a very substantial tax base to benefit all of Long Beach. These neighborhoods need to remain strong if Long Beach is to remain the wonderful community that it's been for us for 31 years. [applause]

    LGB scoping meeting, Oct 16/03Among those also attending was 8th district Councilman Rob Webb.

    Also attending but not pictured: 2d district Councilman Dan Baker (with chief of staff Mark Taylor), 5th district Council administrative analyst Tim Patton and 7th district Council chief of staff Ray Pok.

    City Hall is accepting further public input on the scope of the EIR via email (500 words max, no attachments) to "" and is accepted only through the close of business Oct. 23. Comments will also be accepted in writing (esp. for lengthier materials with attachments) through close of business Oct. 22.

    One resident opined, "Since ELB seems to be pitted against downtown LB and the developers down there," said one resident, "I'd like to consider the possibility of forming our own City Council, having East Long Beach secede and call it the City of East Long Beach [some applause]. It would be more likely to represent our interests...

    ...We should be working to eliminate the use of the Airport [applause] by an estimated 3.9 million passengers, up 300% this year, when there are only 450,000 residents or so living here. Are we to be a toxic dumping ground for airport passengers from surrounding cities? The best way to reduce the number of flights overhead is to stop bending over backwards to accommodate the persons that want to use our airspace...

    Another speaker asked rhetorically, "How do you fight City Hall?" Some audience members shouted "Recall...Recall"...and received applause.

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