The May 7th Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Specific Plan Amendment Study Environmental Impact Report (EIR) scoping meeting offered a presentation of potential options for airport modernization and public comment regarding the proposed projects.

Roger Johnson, deputy executive director of facilities and environmental planning for the airport, presented several options for the proposed project, at the meeting, held at the Proud Bird Restaurant near LAX.

Johnson said option one is a “No action” option, where the existing layout would be maintained for runways, terminals and ground transportation.

Option two would:

— move the North Airfield Runway (24L) 340 feet south toward Terminals 1, 2 and 3 and extend it to the east;

— move runway 24R, extending it toward the west;

— add a center parallel taxiway between the two runways (to provide for new generation Group VI, the so-called “new large” wide-bodied aircraft such as the Airbus A380);

— exclude private vehicles from the terminal area;

— construct a Ground Transportation Center at Aviation and Century Boulevards for passenger drop-off/pick-up;

— construct an Intermodal Transportation Center near the Metro Green Line Aviation station; and

— build an automated people mover to transport airport users between the Ground Transportation Center and the terminal areas.

Option three would:

— move the North Airfield Runway 24L 100 feet south toward Terminals 1, 2 and 3 and extend it to the east;

— add a center parallel taxiway between the runways (to better accommodate current generation Group V aircraft);

— demolish Terminals 1, 2 and 3 and replace them with a new terminal and concourse parallel to runways;

— keep the terminal area open to all vehicles;

— build two new transportation centers for additional passenger pick-up/drop-off; and

— build an automated people mover to transport airport users between both transportation centers and the terminal area.

Option four would:

— leave the existing North Airfield runways and provide operational changes to the airport, maintaining the existing layout for both the runways and the terminals;

— keep the terminal area open to all vehicles;

— build two new transportation centers for additional passenger drop-off/ pick-up;

— build additional drop-off and pick-up areas east of Terminal 1; and

— build an automated people mover to transport airport users between both transportation centers and the terminal area.

Option five would:

— move the North Airfield Runway 24R 100 feet north, away from Terminals 1, 2 and 3 and extend it to the west;

— extend Runway 24L to the east;

— add center parallel taxiways between runways (to better accommodate current generation Group V aircraft);

— maintain existing layout for terminals;

— keep terminals open to all vehicles;

— build two new transportation centers for additional passenger drop-off/pick-up; and

— build an automated people mover to transport airport users between the terminals, the new transportation centers and the new drop- off/pick-up area east of the terminal area.

The sixth option would:

— move the North Airfield Runway 24R 340 feet north, away from Terminals 1, 2 and 3 and extend it to the west;

— extend Runway 24L to the east;

— add center parallel taxiway between runways (to provide for new generation Group VI large wide-bodied aircraft);

— maintain existing terminal layout;

— keep terminal open to all vehicles;

— build two new transportation centers for additional passenger drop-off/pick-up; and

— build an automated people mover to transport airport users between both transportation centers and the terminal area.

Johnson said the draft EIR is expected to be completed in the middle of next year, with public comments on the draft EIR expected late next year, followed by a final EIR and agency review, expected in mid-2010.

During public comment, opponents to any airport expansion spoke out against moving the runways north, air pollution and noise emitting day and night from LAX.

“As a resident of Playa del Rey, I’m concerned about the VOCs [volatile organic compounds] I smell in our atmosphere, the black stuff I find on my windowsills, and the constant din of folks playing with their noisy airplanes in the dead of night,” said Harry Rose.

Rose said he would like to see a thorough study of the level of aircraft-related air pollution in Playa del Rey, Westchester, Lennox and Inglewood, including volatile organic compounds and particulates “all the way down to PM-1.5” — particulates so small that they are able to enter the bloodstream.

He asked why the seaport of Los Angeles gets so much attention about pollution and LAX does not.

Rose asked for an evaluation of published scientific data linking aircraft pollution to cancer, asthma in children, early onset of pulmonary ailments in adults and the detrimental effects on unborn children during pregnancy, as well as how this relates to communities surrounding LAX.

He also asked why LAX was not included in the MATES III study — a study performed by the South Coast Air Quality Management District to assess levels of cancer-causing toxic air pollutants and the risk they pose to Southland residents — which ran from 2004 to 2006.

“I am sorry to see that LAWA [Los Angeles World Airports, the city airport agency] is looking to assess options that are in conflict with the spirit of the settlement, if not the letter,” said Denny Schneider, president of Alliance for a Regional Solution to Airport Congestion (ARSAC). “I urge everyone to respond to LAWA to suggest alternatives that do not devastate our community. Also, insist that the safety study be completed before these options are set in stone.”

One local resident said her parents built their house in 1947 and that the airport got bigger when she was a child.

She asked if it wouldn’t be less expensive to build an airport “from scratch” out in an open area such as Palmdale rather than tear down existing structures and rebuild them.

Another resident said she flies frequently on business, and she doesn’t want to hear that she might die if the runways aren’t moved closer to her home, saying the airport needs modernization, but she doesn’t want further destruction of her community.

Martin Rubin of Concerned Residents against Airport Pollution (CRAAP) said that it’s not NIMBY-ism (not-in-my-back-yard-ism) to want to breathe clean air, and that the smell of raw kerosene is not what the body was meant to breathe.

“To pollute without looking at the harm done is unconscionable,” said Rubin.

If cigarette smoke is bad for us, one can only imagine what pollution does, he said.

Most of the speakers strongly supported regionalization — increased use of other airports in Southern California — and one speaker said this could be accomplished if LAX charged higher rates for airlines utilizing LAX than is charged at other airports.

“LAX is the K-Mart of airports,” the speaker said.

Another speaker asked what would happen in case of a catastrophe — cars caught in the Sepulveda Boulevard tunnel under airport runways, and cars caught on the Century Freeway (Interstate 105) trying to get to the airport.

She also criticized the low lighting in the tunnel, asking why the burned-out lights couldn’t be replaced for safety reasons.

Roy Hefner asserted that runway incursions are caused by pilot/controller error, not “airport geometry,” as has been claimed by former Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) head Marion Blakey.

Hefner noted that two months ago at a meeting at the Flight Path Center, people told airport officials they didn’t support any plans to move the northern runway to the north.

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