(Sept. 27, 2004) -- LBReport.com has learned that City Manager Jerry Miller has issued a memo, citing several factors, in directing LB city staff not to engage -- for the moment -- in any proactive marketing related to 25 currently vacant daily commuter airline flight slots (for aircraft under 75,000 pounds) at LB Airport.
In a September 24 memo to LB Airport Bureau Manager Chris Kunze and Public Works Director Christine Andersen, City Manager Miller writes:
The memo is cc'd to the Mayor and Members of the City Council, City Attorney Robert Shannon and Assistant City Manager Christine Shippey.
The 25 daily commuter aircraft flight slots remain legally available under LB's Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance. LB Airport's 41 daily noise budgeted flight slots for large commercial aircraft (over 75,000 pounds) are filled.
The City Manager's directive was welcomed by Councilwoman Ray Gabelich, who represents the airport-impacted 8th Council district. During this spring's election, in which she ousted an incumbent backed by LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill, the issue of City Hall's marketing of the Airport (which is not legally required) was a sore point for a number of residents.
Councilwoman Gabelich told LBReport.com that she had spoken to City Manager Miller about the subject and suggested that he "provide the community with a good faith assurance that their views were being taken into account." Councilwoman Gabelich called the City Manager's action on proactive marketing of the 25 commuter slots "a good beginning"...while acknowledging that the 25 slots must remain legally available.
(The City Manager's directive does not affect the legal availability of the 25 commuter flight slots, just "proactive marketing activities" by city staff related to them. It remains in effect only until such time "as the City Manager, in consultation with the City Council, deems appropriate.")
The City Manager's action comes as LB's Airport Advisory Commission (AAC) approaches a thorny vote on expansion of LB Airport's permanent terminal area facilities.
On September 16, 2004, after months of discussion, the AAC (Mayor chosen, Council approved) voted 6-3 to recommend approval of Airport management's preferred plan for enlarging LB Airport permanent terminal area facilities and parking. On September 30, the AAC is scheduled to recommend issues that should be included (or not included) in an EIR on the expanded terminal area facilities...and how to handle requests, if any, by carriers to fill the 25 commuter slots.
The Council had been scheduled to decide the scope of the EIR in December 2003...but in October 2003 -- with city elections approaching in four Council districts in spring 2004 -- the Council referred the Airport terminal expansion issues to the AAC, effectively delaying a Council vote on the hot potato Airport issues until after the elections. (4th and 8th Council district voters ultimately replaced their now-former incumbents in spring 2004.)
The Airport issues are now likely to reach the City Council in the coming weeks. To date, the LB City Council has not specifically discussed how large LB Airport's permanent terminal area facilities should be.
Meanwhile (and perhaps not coincidentally), city management (as previously reported by LBReport.com has indicated it is preparing (with CSULB) an Airport-Related "Economic Impact Analysis" and (with the Community Development Dept.) a "Real Estate Value" Analysis. These two items may arrive about the time the City Council is expected to take up Airport terminal expansion issues.