It was clear after nearly three hours of public testimony that the majority of community members are not in favor of approving this enhancement to our municipal airport.
Mr. Peters, spokesperson for Jacobs Eng., made several comments that told us he was not clear on why the residents are worried about this approval.
#1 - Mr. Peters stated that the study will only define the impacts that fall under our Long Beach noise ordinance. "The noise ordinance is a given." That is the concern that most people have. It is NOT a given! It can be challenged at any time by any entity that may feel it could benefit from a change or elimination of the ordinance. Our Long Beach history shows this to be a fact. A fact as recent as 2003 when American Airlines suggested they were being left out and wanted 4 additional slots to not pursue litigation. They got what they asked for.
#2 - He continued to state that the study will address the regional economic impacts the FIS facility would bring to the southern California area. The public reiterated that this is NOT a regional issue, first and foremost it must be a Long Beach issue! They also asked that this study include both the positive and negative impacts on the residents and their quality of life, health, educational environments and property values should this move forward. The audience was told that the scope has already been determined and does not include this specific. They were also advised that the 2007 EIR would be used for assumptions made within this document.
#3 - "The economic benefit will include the increase in jobs in the region". The public again asked that it include the types of jobs and the pay scales. Again siting that jobs versus property values must be considered in the final analysis.
Mr. Curt Castagna of Aeroplex made the comment that the airport tenants provide $11M to the general fund. This is misleading to the audience. The $11M dollars arrives in the general fund as payment for both police and fire services that are required on the airport site. It is not money spent to pave sidewalks and streets or improve recreation programs for the citizens of Long Beach.
Our other concern is that they did not identify the charter market should this FIS enhancement be approved by the city council. The charter industry is growing throughout the world and is worthy of being included in potential impacts to our communities. Charter flights do have their own noise bucket.
They did state they will be addressing the possible growth of general aviation. Today the general aviation noise bucket is at 41% capacity showing much room for allowable growth. This is especially important to the 5th and 7th council districts since general aviation primarily uses 25R and 25L that fly directly over these neighborhoods.
The message to each of you is to educate yourselves on what is at stake. Communicate directly with your council representatives and cc all other council districts as well as the mayor. The mayor sets the tone and direction, the council votes to approve or deny.
We will continue to update on other airport related subjects. We welcome any questions or opinions as well. We are all in this together. Remember, we agree, it is not about where the aircraft are flying to or from, it is about the peripheral results should Long Beach be approved for international travel. Long Beach is A "City of Neighborhoods" and the health and well being of its citizens should always be the council's first priority.