Charles Calvert (Cal) Egerton — who headed the City of Los Angeles Department of Airports community relations office at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) for 13 years prior to his retirement December 21st, 1984 — has died in Florida. He was 90.
Egerton headed the community relations department during a stormy period when the city was condemning and demolishing whole neighborhoods of homes in Westchester and Playa del Rey.
At the time, the city feared that neighbors to the north and west of the airport would file an endless string of noise claims against the city. City legal advisors suggested it would be cheaper for the city to buy the homes and for neighbors affected by airport noise to move.
Egerton had been in the airport department’s public relations office but had been mostly involved with the city’s Ontario Airport when he was tapped to head up the new office on Sepulveda Boulevard in Westchester to serve as liaison between the airport and its neighbors.
“The city was still acquiring property at that time. Compensation and other details were being handled by the City Public Works Department,” Egerton told The Argonaut at the time of his retirement. “They had a special team.
“There were a lot of complaints from neighbors, but there was really no good path of contact between the (airport) department and the communities around the airport — particularly on the north side.”
Adding to the problem for the airport and Egerton was the fact that the residents being displaced included longtime residents who had planned to spend their final years in the homes that were to be acquired by the airport.
“These people had a lot to say to the airport department and there was no means to communicate,” Egerton said.
An office on Sepulveda Boulevard rather than at the airport was chosen, Egerton said, because the off-airport site would be more comfortable for residents with complaints about the airport department.
The Sepulveda Boulevard office also provided meeting room for groups, he added.
Through his 13-year period with LAX, airport noise continued to dominate his interest, Egerton said.
But there were other airport-oriented issues that Egerton addressed, such as street lights, debris on airport property and vandalism in vacant homes that the airport department had acquired.
Egerton also had to address the issue of pilots who — during takeoffs — were turning north before reaching Santa Monica Bay and flying over airport-adjacent homes.
Egerton spent most of his 13 years with LAX meeting with neighbors and with involvement in local community organizations, such as the local chambers of commerce. He served as president of the then-Westchester Chamber of Commerce.
Before he joined the City of Los Angeles Department of Airports, Egerton was involved in the entertainment business. His activities included providing sound effects for the popular radio program, “The Shadow.”
Following his retirement at LAX, Egerton moved to England, where he lived for 15 years before moving to Pompano Beach, Florida.