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    Airport Advisory Comm'n Votes To Recommend Project-Specific Health Risk Assessment In Permanent Terminal Area Facilities EIR

    Airport Mgt. Says It Will Re-Issue Notice of EIR Preparation For Project (Now Larger Than Proposed in '03) With Two Smaller Versions Of Project As EIR Alternatives

    (October 1, 2004) -- LB's City Hall appointed "Airport Advisory Commission" (AAC) voted 7-0 on Sept. 30 to recommend inclusion of a project-specific Health Risk Assessment in an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on expansion of LB Airport's permanent terminal area facilities.

    A Health Risk Assessment had been sought by various members of the public for over a year, and the AAC agreed to include one -- restricted to the project itself -- and including supplemental flights possible under LB's noise budgeted airport ordinance (roughly 9 to 11 large aircraft assuming a quieter fleet mix) and 25 currently unused commuter slots (aircraft under 75,000 pounds).

    In a memo distributed at the meeting, Assistant City Attorney clarified that a Sept. 13 memo (previously reported on was "not meant to suggest that a project related and appropriately focused Health Risk Assessment (HRA) should automatically be excluded from the EIR proposed for the terminal area improvements," and if a Health Risk Assessment were included it should be project-specific and focused on the required CEQA analysis (impacts vs. baseline).

    Airport management also announced plans to issue a new "Notice of Preparation" for the project EIR. "Because of the time lapse and additional information available as a result of actual 41 daily flight activity experience, analysis completed by the City's consultants and public input received over the past several months, it is our intention to re-publish a modified NOP [Notice of Preparation], once the City Council approves project/environmental scopes," said Airport Manager Chris Kunze in a memo made available at the meeting.

    The facilities expansion project favored by management is larger than described in its Notice of EIR Preparation issued in Sept. 2003. (To view's comparison of the sizes, click here.)

    Airport management said it intends to include two smaller expansion alternatives (previously requested but not recommended by the AAC) "as project alternatives in the EIR, so that they can be included as options within the environmental analysis." (A firm, hired by the Airport for planning purposes, has previously indicated it believes the smaller alternatives will generate less concession revenue than management's larger recommended sizing.)

    Regarding a Health Risk Assessment, Assistant City Attorney Mais said in a memo distributed at the meeting:

    If the City Council wishes to include (or the AAC wishes to recommend) such a study in the pending EIR in order to address questions and issues regarding the proposed project which have been raised by various members of the public, then such an analysis of potential project impacts can be included as part of the EIR. This analysis would determine whether the project, when compared to the "existing conditions" baseline, would cause any significant environmental impact and, if so, whether there are feasible mitigation measures which would lessen or avoid any identified significant environmental effect. Consistent with the advice in our September 13th memo, however, this analysis would be project specific and focused on the required CEQA analysis (i.e., project impacts vs. baseline), and should not be used as an analysis of health risks not associated directly with the proposed project.

    After examining a citywide health risk assessment due to be released in October, the AAC will eventually forward its recommendations to the City Council, the body that will ultimately decide the size of the Airport's permanent terminal area facilities and the scope of the EIR issues.

    The Council had been scheduled to decide the EIR scope in December 2003...but in October 2003 Councilmembers referred the airport issues to the AAC for discussion first, effectively delaying a Council vote until after spring 2004 city elections.

    In the interim, Airport management and its planning firm announced larger recommended sizes that they said result from applying updated empirical data on load factors, newer aircraft capacities the like. Meanwhile, voters in the Airport-impacted 4th and 8th district voters replaced their Councilmembers in April and June 2004 city elections.

    LB Airport's current mix of permanent and temporary facilities handles 41 daily large aircraft commercial flights, some say in an untidy, less than optimal manner. LB Airport also has 25 flight slots for commuter-type flights (aircraft under 75,000 pounds) which are currently vacant.

    LB's nine-member (Mayor-chosen, Council-approved) Airport Advisory Commission has no substantive decisionmaking power and can only make recommendations to the City Council that appointed it. It presently includes current and inactive private pilots, individuals with aviation or travel related ties, residents from Los Altos and Cal Hts...and one 8th Council district resident active in LBHUSH2, a grassroots group opposed to Airport expansion.

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