In a letter dated Tuesday, July 17th, local elected officials asked Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to “exert his leadership to prevent the LAX Master Plan from becoming a blueprint for community outrage, litigation and unnecessary delay of the modernization we all support.”

The letter was signed by Congresswomen Maxine Waters (35th District) and Jane Harman (36th District), Los Angeles County Supervisors Don Knabe (4th District) and Yvonne B. Burke (2nd District), and Los Angeles 11th District City Councilman Bill Rosendahl.

The letter states that these officials support “modernizing LAX and immediately moving forward with all of the green-lighted projects, including building a new mid-field terminal, an automated people mover, the consolidated rental car center and the Green Line extension to LAX, and we also support efforts to accommodate Group VI aircraft such as the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747-8 by building the necessary contact gates.” [“Reference is made to a legal agreement in late 2005 that “green-lighted” some aspects and deleted others from an early LAX expansion plan.]

The elected officials said they “strongly oppose LAWA’s [the city airport agency’s] and BOAC’s [Board of Airport Commissioners] single-minded resolve to move runways north into the Westchester and Playa del Rey neighborhoods, and we are also disappointed that LAWA has not done more to promote regionalization and to plan for LAX modernization as part of a broader regional aviation strategy.”

“LAWA and BOAC have ignored all other alternatives to runway movement, and have jeopardized the hard-won stipulated legal agreement as a result,” the letter states.

The elected officials urge the mayor to publicly endorse the new safety study unanimously called for by the Los Angeles City Council, saying it could be completed in the next few months and that it is “critical that LAWA and BOAC hear from you that this study must be done now, with the advice and direction of a community-based North Runway Safety Advisory Committee before LAWA begins with the EIR [environmental impact report].”

Saying that the five studies commissioned by airport officials do not support the assertion that there is a north airfield safety imperative, the officials’ letter states that “LAWA and BOAC have ignored all other alternatives to runway movement, and have jeopardized that hard-won stipulated settlement as a result.”

If this new study indicates a significant safety finding on the north airfield, the officials state they believe it is “incumbent upon LAWA to review alternatives in the environmental impact report beyond moving the runways north, including an end-around taxiway system, moving the runways south, the one-runway solution and other options the new study might recommend.”

The letter states that all of the officials signed a pledge in 2004 to cap growth at LAX and to work with surrounding neighborhoods to modernize its facilities and mitigate any impacts.

“We urge you to lead the fight and ensure that the community’s interests are respected, and we pledge once again to stand with you when you do so,” the letter says.

In a June 5th letter to her constituents, Waters stated that she was unequivocally opposed to moving the runways north into Westchester and Playa del Rey neighborhoods and the business community.

Waters said that there is no credible evidence that a safety issue exists on the north airfield and that the issue is “clearly a smokescreen for LAWA’s real agenda, expanding LAX.”

Proposing to move the runway north is “a clear and direct violation of the settlement agreement that promised to end LAX expansion and replace Alternative D of the Master Plan with something better for airport neighbors,” stated Waters.

Waters said she calls on Villaraigosa “to keep his commitment to airport neighbors and direct LAWA to abandon this expansion plan immediately.”

“The proposal is an insult to the community; it will surely be challenged and fought vigorously in the court of public opinion and in a court of law,” stated Waters.

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