The proposed disbanding of the Southern California Regional Airport Authority (SCRAA) because of its ineffectiveness — due to representatives of Orange and Riverside County declining to participate — is seen as an opportunity to take a fresh look at air traffic regionalization with a new entity that supports improved ground transportation access to those airports that want to grow, said Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl.
Rosendahl represents the 11th Council District and serves as the city’s representative on Southern California Regional Airport Authority— a joint powers agreement between the Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange counties and the City of Los Angeles.
The Southern California Regional Airport Authority originally started in 1984 to resolve the problem of growing air traffic at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) and ran consistently until 2003, when it was disbanded. It was reinstated in 2006.
Rosendahl, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, Los Angeles County Supervisor for the Fourth District Don Knabe, and 36th District U.S. Congresswoman Jane Harman joined Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in 2006 to reactivate the Southern California Regional Airport Authority.
Stakeholder survey results showed that the entire group should either be able to work together for solutions or disband entirely.
Rosendahl said he “is now convinced that this board should use the remaining resources it has to devise and facilitate the creation of a new organization with a clear focus on pursuing ground transportation access to receiver airports.
“Considering today’s circumstances, we must devise a new entity that can best pursue regionalization with real success under the political realities of our time,” said Rosendahl. “Simply put, if we improve access to these airports, air traffic will shift to these airports.
“The most important thing we can do now to regionalize air traffic in Southern California is improve ground access to airports that want to grow,” Rosendahl told The Argonaut. “If we make it easier for travelers to get to regional airports like LA/Ontario, air traffic will shift to those airports.
“SCRAA doesn’t have the tools to make that happen, so we initiated this process to figure out what does.”
Rosendahl said he is “pursuing a renaissance of regionalization associated with Southern California’s airports that would not be saddled with the attitudes of the past.”
To facilitate regionalization for Southern California’s airports, Rosendahl is proposing five steps.
— The Southern California Regional Airport Authority board should officially conclude that the authority is no longer the best agency and entity to address and pursue the regionalization and decentralization of Southern California’s air traffic under today’s circumstances.
— The board should take action to commence the disbanding of the authority and request that staff report back on the steps that would need to be taken in order to accomplish decommissioning.
— The remaining authority funds available should be utilized to retain consultant assistance in facilitating the design of a new vehicle to achieve the regionalization in Southern California’s airports, with the primary focus of improving ground transportation access to airports self-designated as receiver airports.
— Interim staff should report back to the board at a special meeting to be scheduled within two months with recommendations to retain consultants and initiate this new approach. The scope of work of those consultants should include designing a preliminary work program, identifying the people and entities deemed best equipped to pursue the new regionalization focus, and working with those stakeholders to develop the strategy.
— Consultants should be hired to explore merging the effort with the regional High Speed Transit Authority, the Southern California Association of Governments, the City of Ontario, the City of West Covina, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).
— The final point is to request authorizing staff to hire consultants for a term of two months to develop the recommendations and report at the next SCRAA meeting.
Knabe is a director on the agency’s board and an active voting member along with Rosendahl and Supervisor Gary Ovitt of San Bernardino County.
Ovitt said a number of airports are very interested in obtaining the air traffic, but lack appropriate ground access to the airports.
According to the Los Angeles Business Journal, the agency’s authority has been rejected by Riverside and Orange Counties, and Riverside County Supervisor Bob Buster, although still listed as a member on the authority’s Web site, stopped attending meetings because he was concerned that commercial air traffic might come to March Air Reserve Base.
Buster told the Los Angeles Business Journal that the committee is “L.A.-centric,” and that he “doesn’t want Riverside County to get pushed around.”
Orange County declined to join the committee because of the same concerns about John Wayne Airport, stated the Los Angeles Business Journal.