Douglas Park Council Hearing Postponed At Boeing Realty's Request To Respond To FAA Inquiry Re Project's Compatibility With Airport
(October 26, 2004) -- A November 9 City Council hearing on Boeing Realty's Douglas Park development (mixed uses including commercial, office, retail and 1,400 residential units west of Lakewood Blvd. between Carson St. and LB Airport) has been abruptly postponed.
This afternoon (Oct. 26) Boeing Realty Corporation released the following statement:
At the request of Boeing Realty Corporation, the Long Beach City Council has put over until later this year its review of the companyís proposed Douglas Park plan. Boeing Realty made the request so it may respond to an FAA inquiry about the projectís compatibility with the airport.
"We have established a track record in our projects of promptly addressing information requests from all interested parties. This includes comments the FAA submitted in response to the Draft Environmental Impact Report for Douglas Park. Because we are fully compatible with airport-related guidelines and regulations, we are confident that any remaining issues regarding Douglas Parkís residential neighborhoods will be resolved" [Boeing Realty Development Manager DeDe Soto said in the written release].
"Boeing has had a long history of cooperation with the FAA and values this positive relationship. We look forward to answering any issues they may have in a satisfactory manner" [Ms. Soto added]
Douglas Park is a planned 260-acre mixed-use community at the southwest corner of Lakewood Boulevard and Carson Street. It will offer 1,400 residential units and 3.3 million square feet of commercial, manufacturing, retail and hotel uses. Studies show the project should generate more than 11,000 on-site jobs and have a positive economic impact of over $1 billion.
As part of a two sentence statement advising that the hearing had been postponed at Boeing Realty's request, a City Hall release said, "The City will notify the public when a new date has been determined."
On October 12, LBReport.com reported that the office of a high ranking FAA official had said in a letter to a third party that inclusion of 1,400 proposed residential units (on the northern portion of the former Douglas plant site) would represent an incompatible land use with LB Airport.
The FAA letter, sent from the Washington, D.C. office of FAA Associate Administrator for Airports, Woodie Woodward, said LB City Hall is required "to take action to restrict the use of land next to the airport to uses that are compatible with normal airport operations"...and indicates the FAA will be monitoring the planning process "to ensure the city's compliance with its Federal obligations."
The FAA letter came in reply to a letter from Candace Robinson, proprietor of the Long Beach Flying Club and Flight Academy, an opponent of plans to include residences in the project. Ms. Robinson referred to the letter in October 7 testimony to the LB Planning Commission (Mayor appointed, Council approved) which went on to vote unanimously to approve the Douglas Park proposal with housing, sending the matter to the City Council.
At a midafternoon October 12 City Council study session, LB Community Development Director Melanie Fallon acknowledged the FAA correspondence and Deputy City Attorney Mike Mais discussed details:
Mr. Mais: What Melanie is referring to, I believe, is the letter that was presented to the Planning Commission last Thursday [Oct. 7] from the FAA directed to one of the speakers at the Planning Commission meeting...
...I think each of you have a copy, but basically it indicates that the FAA has taken a position in opposition to the project. And quite frankly, I was a little surprised about the letter.
Staff had not seen that letter prior to Thursday, but more importantly...the project itself was specifically designed to comply with all applicable state and federal regulations, and there are numerous regulations that control the airport at both the state and federal level.
And all of those regulations have been met or exceeded.
In addition, the FAA did have the opportunity to provide comments to the draft EIR...They in fact did supply comments to the EIR, which have been responded to. And none of the comments that they made to the EIR in any way came close to indicating that they had an objection to the project.
And finally...the project includes a number of mitigation measures, not the least of which is an avigation easement [to protect city from lawsuits from those who move into project, acknowledging aircraft overflights, noise, and other things associated with an airport].
So as far as we're concerned, the project does meet all of the applicable standards. The FAA has not at this point communicated directly with the city that they are in opposition to the project.
So we're going to have to have further discussions with FAA to sort of sort out their position.
At the October 12 Council study session, Community Development Director Fallon voiced strong support for the Douglas Park development, declaring "We believe that these 260 acres, if they are developed as we are suggesting, that Long Beach will have one of the finest, newest, well planned jobs and residential neighborhoods in Los Angeles County."
She added, "Without this residential component of 1,400 housing units, Boeing may not have the resources to complete the commercial infrastructure and we could risk not adding jobs to our economy for a number of years."
The FAA letter from the office of Woodie Woodward, FAA Associate Administrator for Airports, states in pertinent part:
...A residential development next to the airport with 1,400 residential units represents an incompatible land use. A recipient of Airport Improvement Program grant funding, the city of Long Beach, as the airport sponsor, has an obligation to comply with Grant Assurance 21, Compatible Land Use. This grant assurance requires the city to take action to restrict the use of land next to the airport to uses that are compatible with normal airport operations.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has gone on record as objecting to the proposed development. We provided comments in response to a draft Environmental Impact Report prepared under the California Environmental Quality Act. In addition, the proposed project will be evaluated by various land use agencies. The review should show the proposed residential project is not consistent with the land use plans recommended for this area next to the airport.
The FAA will continue to monitor the planning process to ensure the city's compliance with its Federal obligations...
In April, the FAA's Western-Pacific Airway Facilities Division submitted comments on the Douglas Park Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which stated in part:
The proposal includes low, medium and high-density residential land uses in the northern half of the subject site...Airport noise issues are a controversial and highly contested issue at Long Beach Airport...The introduction of new homes in the immediate proximity of the airport would likely generate noise complaints not only from the aircraft using Runway 12/30, but also Runway 7L/25R...
...[The EIR] is silent on the airport's need to ensure that the approaches to the runways remain clear and their grant-in-aid obligations to ensure that compatible land uses around the airport are maintained...
While the EIR states that homes would be insulated to achieve an interior noise level of 45 CNEL, that does not account for noise impacts outdoors. The FAA has received complaints from people living near an airport, stating that while they can find relief inside their homes, they cannot enjoy their backyards due to the noise of over-flying aircraft.
The EIR evaluates an alternative that does not include residential land use. Based on past history of noise complaints from residents near Long Beach Airport, we recommend the consideration of the non-residential alternative. This alternative would not introduce new non-compatible land uses in the immediate vicinity of an airport...
LB City Hall staff responded to the FAA's April EIR comments in pertinent part:
...The [EIR] analysis concludes that the project will comply with the Airport Layout Plan as well as FAA Part 77 Regulations. In addition, the project will implement the Airport Land Use Plan (ALUP) safety policies through various site planning restrictions. Also...based on a number of factors, including current and expected airport operations, the height zones proposed by the project, the compatibility guidelines set forth by the Caltrans Handbook, and the proposed mitigation measures, the risk exposure of the proposed project will not cause a safety hazard for people residing or working in the proposed project area. Finally, the proposed uses will be consistent with the noise compatibility guidelines set forth by the Caltrans Handbook and the ALUP. Therefore, from a land use perspective, the location of residential homes within the norther portion of the site is compatible with the airport.
...Contrary to what is suggested in [the FAA] comment, a discussion of potential effects from overflight noise (e.g., runway 16R and 16L as well as helicopter operations) was provided on pages 537 and 538 of the Draft EIR. The Draft EIR concluded that the project could result in overflight noise, which may be a source of annoyance to proposed sensitive receptors on the project site.
...In addition, [an included mitigation measure] requires all persons purchasing, leasing or renting residential land or property within the development to sign an Acknowledgement of Notice of Airspace and Aviation Easement as provided in the Development Agreement for the project. The Acknowledgement...shall disclose the fact that the subject property is in the immediate vicinity of the Airport; that there may be noise and other related impacts because of proximity to the Airport; that the proximity to the Airport may affect normal activities on, and the comfortable use and enjoyment of property; and that market value may be adversely affected...[and that the person signing] is waiving legal claims and rights which it might otherwise have with respect to the aviation activities permitted by the Easement.
...The [FAA's] assertion that the Draft EIR is silent on the airport's need to ensure that the approaches to the runways remain clear and their grant-in-aid obligations to ensure that compatible land uses around the airport are maintained is incorrect. As discussed in detail in SEction V.E., Hazards and Hazardous Materials, development within the vicinity of the Airport is regulated by a number of airport planning documents and regulations, including Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 77 Regulations, the Airport Layout Plan for the Long Beach Airport (reviewed and approved by the FAA on April 5, 2000), and the Long Beach Airport Comprehensive Airport Land Use Plan (ALUP). The ALUP was prepared and adopted by the Los Angeles County Airport Land Use Commission (ALUC) based on guidelines, recommendations, regulations and/or policies of the FAA, Caltrans Division of Aeronautics, and municipalities within the County. The ALUP provides policies to promote land use compatibility and limit noise and other safety conflicts in areas surrounding airports.
...The Draft EIR contains an analysis of the project relative to potential noise from the airport. In compliance with the policies of the Airport Land Use Plan (ALUP), California Title 21, and FAA Guidelines, the published Airport CNEL contours were used to assess potential noise impacts upon the proposed residential uses and associated outdoor recreational areas within the project development resulting from airport noise...As the analysis concluded and indicated [in the Draft EIR], the residential uses and associated outdoor recreational areas proposed within the project site will be outside of the 65 CNEL contour based upon the maximum expected operating scenario allowed by [the LB Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance]. However [as also disclosed in the EIR], overflight noise (e.g., runway 16R and 16L as well as helicopter operations) may be a source of annoyance to proposed sensitive receptors (e.g., residential uses and associated outdoor recreational areas) on the project site.
...In accordance with the proposed Development Agreement for the project, all of the residential uses for Douglas Park will be located outside of the 60 CNEL contour.
Previous related coverage:
City Att'y Office Plans To Confer With FAA Over Agency's Contention That Douglas Park's Proposed 1,400 Housing Units Is Incompatible Land Use; City Staff Backs Project, Says It Meets Legal Req'ts.
High Ranking FAA Official Calls Housing @ Douglas Park Incompatible With Airport Uses
Planning Comm'n OK's Douglas Park Project, Sends It To Council
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