No airport expansion first

LAX: Expansion vs. Modernization

As LAWA (Los Angeles World Airports) releases its long-awaited environmental impact report (EIR) that will detail the changes they hope to make to Los Angeles International Airport, my neighborhood cowers in fear and anticipation.

Maybe that sounds like hyperbole, but it’s a fact. Westchester, our neighborhood, is the home of LAX and previous expansion efforts have disrupted lives, destroyed businesses, and generally incited an atmosphere rife with anxiety because any movement of the north runway (as proposed) will alter the fabric of our community. It will remove people from their homes, some after multiple generations, and alter our culture immeasurably.

That said, LAX is an embarrassment. Its existing terminals (aside from the new Tom Bradley International Terminal) are woefully inadequate, out of date, and frankly, falling apart. We don’t even have mass transit serving the airport, removing any credibility in calling LAX a 21st century airport or even a late 20th century airport.

So, I am all for some big changes to LAX, but I – like my neighbors – fear that LAWA’s plans to create a 21st century airport will be rooted in a 20th century approach: expansion and the tired idea that “bigger is better.”

But, here’s the problem. Expand the north runway and you fail to achieve the objective, which is to create an airport that serves its city and passengers better. Expansion first makes no sense and will fail to pay off as an investment because the expansion can’t be used to its full potential until the existing infrastructure is modernized.

It’s like deciding you want to be a doctor, so you lease an office and hire a staff before you go to medical school. Sure, you’ll have somewhere to see patients, but you can’t really do anything until you get that degree.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a huge opportunity here. LAWA wants to spend some real money on this project and if we approach this with a little intelligence, L.A. will have a world-class airport and will get a much-needed investment into the local economy, but we have to be smart about it.

But expansion first is not the smartest move. Yes, an expansion would create thousands of temporary jobs in construction but at the cost of a huge swath of Westchester’s permanent business district. In essence, we’ll trade permanency for temporary.

I propose we focus entirely on modernizing existing infrastructure first. Here’s what we can accomplish by doing that: preserving the Westchester business district and corresponding tax base while creating a New Deal-style project for our nascent tech industry in Venice to grow around.

By focusing on building LAX into an innovative organism of technological superiority, we can both modernize existing infrastructure at the airport and create a more efficient, user-friendly passenger experience while providing the Silicon Beach economy with something big to coalesce around. It would take what is a group of pioneering tech start-ups into the next level: a real and permanent industry within Los Angeles that is vibrant and evolving to create new jobs and serve Los Angeles through its work.

And while we do that, expand the green into LAX and there are your construction jobs. We desperately need a rail line to alleviate traffic along Sepulveda Boulevard and to bring tourists into the areas we want to get them: downtown, Hollywood/Highland, and beyond. It’s so sad to see families of tourists wandering down Aviation Boulevard on their vacation just because they don’t have a car. I can only imagine what they think of L.A. when they only see the backside of the airport.

We can’t let that happen. If we want to grow tourism, we need modernization and a rail line. If that builds ridership to the point that expansion is necessary, ok. But expanding first is like putting the cart before the horse. It doesn’t make sense and it won’t pay off as an investment.

Let’s not approach this challenge from the perspective of conventional wisdom. Instead, let’s band together and build a newer, better LAX that serves its community and becomes something we can be proud of.

Odysseus Bostick, Westchester

Dealing with our tragedies.

Could the media please give us a break with endless grisly accounts of the Aurora, Colo. killings? I understand it was a tragedy, and our sympathies lie with the 70 innocent victims.

But, we also need to appreciate that 86 Americans are reportedly killed by firearms every day, and nearly 4,000 are killed prematurely by chronic diseases linked with consumption of animal products and lack of exercise. Information, www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr60/nvsr60_04.pdf.

So, let’s replace the vacuous hand-wringing over the Aurora tragedy with constructive personal steps to lessen the greater tragedies facing us every day.

Steve Prosky, Marina del Rey

Ending not maintaining homelessness

Re: “Neighborhood council rejects motion on sidewalk enforcement ordinance” (Argonaut, July 26).

I think your use of the generic “homeless” label is misleading. Everyone I know in Venice supports help for homeless people who need it, want it, and will accept it – it’s the only thing to do.

Unfortunately, there is a growing population of freeloaders hiding in that population who contribute nothing to Venice and produce negative conditions for the community: drug use/sales, violence, theft, trash deposits, panhandling, to name a few. They take and take and victimize the truly homeless.

So let’s acknowledge that unfortunate condition and work on correcting that degradation while aiding those in need using all the tools available, even law enforcement.

I applaud your example of PATH’s (People Assisting the Homeless) work in Venice. They have brought new methods of working to end homeless problems rather than maintaining the homeless population that is so often the goal of our local social services.

Ending, not maintaining, is the best long term strategy.

Stewart Oscars, Venice

Infighting over homeless effects

Re: “Neighborhood council rejects motion on sidewalk enforcement ordinance” (Argonaut, July 26):

I wish to compliment The Argonaut on its detailed coverage of the sidewalk enforcement motion at the July 17 meeting of the Venice Neighborhood Council.

As accurate and detailed as it is, it does not reveal the extensive and long-term factional infighting necessary for an in-depth understanding of the matter. The article, therefore, risks leaving readers with the impression that the Venice community and the Venice Neighborhood Council favor one faction over the other.

This is what I feel needs clarification.

Known advocates for homeless people and known advocates for a safer residential community have bitterly fought about this issue for many years. They have done so in a manner which ignores the fact that a large percentage of the Venice community is sympathetic towards the legitimate concerns of both factions and has become deeply frustrated by the negatives of this dynamic.

The article cites comments made at the meeting which clearly document the ongoing existence of this negative dynamic, but it does not make it clear that the Venice community – and many members of the board – do not endorse it and are not “taking sides” by voting against this last in a string of encounters with this issue.

My vote, for instance, was not against the constructive intents of either faction. It was a vote against what I perceive as the politically unnecessary revival of this negative factional dynamic.

In my opinion – based on my intimate familiarity with the infighting on this issue over my seven years on the board – blame, to the extent that it exists, rests squarely and in equal measure on both factions and their leadership.

Joseph D. Murphy, Venice

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