(Sept. 22, 2003) -- Dayglow orange lawn signs proclaiming "Say NO to Airport Expansion," produced by the independent grassroots Airport watchdog group LBHUSH2, have appeared in California Heights and Bixby Knolls.
They are being offered to residents citywide free of charge, timed to coincide with City Hall's launch of its review process for permanent expanded LB Airport terminal facilities.
LBReport.com spotted the signs north and south of Carson St. in the area between Orange and Atlantic Aves...and received emails from readers reporting additional signs elsewhere.
LBHUSH2 president and 8th district homeowner Rae Gabelich said her group is offering the eyecatching lawn signs to LB homeowners to draw attention to City Hall's Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process which will be used by City Hall to permit permanent expansion of LB Airport terminal facilities, what officials call the "Airport Terminal Improvement Project."
[To view LBReport.com's separate coverage of City Hall's project and its review process, click here.]
In 2002, the City Council refused to conduct environmental review before putting so-called temporary expanded Airport passenger facilities in place, but under pressure from LBHUSH2 agreed to conduct an EIR for permanent expanded facilities. Prior to LBUSH2's involvement, city staff had not planned to conduct any environmental review of the permanent Airport terminal facilities expansion.
Ms. Gabelich sees the review process as a rare opportunity for the public to be heard and must not be missed. "It's very important for all of us to put our concerns on the record," Ms Gabelich told LBReport.com...and said the impacts should not be limited to noise.
"Among several issues, we believe City Hall must address the health and pollution impacts of the permanent Airport facilities expansion they're proposing," she said, adding, "It's not just for people under the flight path. If you breathe in Long Beach, you have a right to be heard."
Ms. Gabelich said the signs are meant to "raise the consciousness of the community and remind the public that in the coming weeks they have the chance to put their concerns on the record" conerning permanent expansion of LB Airport passenger facilities. She said the process isn't just "more meetings" but a legal requirement that City Hall must satisfy. "The meetings create a record that City Hall is legally required to address," she noted.
The signs (14" x 22") say Airport expansion "will INCREASE noise and pollution & DECREASE property values."
Ms. Gabelich noted that on Sept. 22, City Hall released its "Notice of Preparation" announcing subjects it proposes to include within the scope of its review of the project's significant impacts. Those impacts become the basis of an EIR on which the public can comment and the Council must vote before the project proceeds.
If a court later decides City Hall failed to examine adequately and respond properly to significant impacts of the permanent Airport facilities expansion, a court can require City Hall to properly address the impacts and in some cases effectively mitigate them before proceeding.
Ms. Gabelich stressed that the EIR is separate from a report publicly requested by the Council (9-0) in May 2002 that was supposed to detail the Airport's effects on residents, including health and home values. Nearly a year and half later, that report has yet to be delivered to the public.
"That report was supposed to detail the effects the Airport on our health and safety, families and homes. It should not be confused with the EIR that City Hall will use to use to justify permanently expanded Airport facilities," said Ms. Gabelich. She said the May 2002 report is "overdue and owing" and added, "we have not forgotten about this."
LBHUSH2 stands for Long Beach Homes Under Stress & Hazard. Its web site (www.lbhush2.com) describes the group as a "grassroots organization dedicated to ensuring that the Long Beach Airport does not degrade the quality of life in our city."
LB Airport is a municipally owned, city management operated entity of the City of Long Beach. Apart from federally preempted issues, city management (i.e. Airport management) proposals, policies and decisions are controlled by the City Council.