Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners President Alan Rothenberg resigned from the board Thursday, Dec. 2 due to his business ties to a restaurant chain that present a potential conflict of interest, resulting in delayed decisions on concessions at Los Angeles International Airport.

Rothenberg is an attorney and investment banker who has served on the Airport Commission for five years.

He also serves on the board of California Pizza Kitchen (CPK), which is involved in bids for concession contracts at LAX, and owns approximately $1 million in stock in the company. In a review requested by Rothenberg, city attorneys concluded that a conflict of interest did exist because of his ties to the company.

Rothenberg sent his resignation letter to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, stating, in part, “As you know, we are moving at breakneck speed to accomplish many important things to modernize LAX, most importantly the construction of the incredible new Bradley West terminal and a complete upgrading of all of our concession contracts.

“Since we have pledged that the foregoing will be completed in December 2012, we cannot tolerate any delay. As you also know, the city attorney has opined that because of my membership on the Board of Directors of CPK, Inc. (California Pizza Kitchen), which has been part of some of a prime concessionaire’s bids, any concession bid that involves that prime concessionaire (HMS Host), would have to be acted on by the Board of Referred Powers, not the BOAC.

“And since that process is likely to cause delay, we simply cannot take that risk as it might adversely impact LAWA’s (Los Angeles World Airports) ability to complete the concession upgrade by December 2012. Accordingly, I am submitting this resignation so that the awarding of concession contracts can proceed in as orderly and expeditious a process as possible,” said Rothenberg.

Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents the LAX area, issued a statement on Thursday, Dec. 2 in reaction to Rothenberg’s resignation.

“At a time that is shaping up to be the most critical juncture at LAX in a quarter century, Alan Rothenberg brought class, professionalism, and uncompromising ethics to the Board of Airport Commissioners,” said Rosendahl. “He was an unwavering champion of modernization, but understood that critical policy decisions are not made in a political vacuum. We worked together beautifully; and when we disagreed, we did so with the utmost of civility, and with a singular focus on finding common ground for the good of the city of Los Angeles.

“It is because of this partnership that we broke ground on real modernization at LAX, starting with the Tom Bradley International Terminal modernization, the largest public works project in the city’s history. He is a model public servant and his leadership will be sorely missed.”

Playa del Rey resident Valeria Velasco, the current Airport Commission vice president, will serve as interim president until the election of a new president.

“Alan Rothenberg has provided strong leadership and guidance for the BOAC, leading LAWA to new heights,” Velasco said. “There will be a void on the BOAC without him. It has been an honor for me to work with him over the last five years as he served continuously with integrity and professionalism. My hope is that he will be able to one day return to the BOAC.”

Westchester resident Denny Schneider, president of the Alliance for a Regional Solution to Airport Congestion (ARSAC), was thankful of Rothenberg’s efforts on the board.

“I want to thank Alan for all the work he did as president of the BOAC and his efforts to operate LAWA like a business,” Schneider said.

“Although we have been on opposite poles regarding the expansion of runway spacing to the north and west, we strongly agreed on the absolute need to renovate LAX from the dilapidated conditions that existed when he took over.”

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