Despite criticism from local Congresswomen Jane Harman and Maxine Waters, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) commissioners have approved a contract to move forward to study the impact of the not-yet-approved LAX master plan Alternative D.
In a 6-0 vote, the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners approved a $291,000 contract to:
n study “the existing footprint and facility at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX); and
n provide complete professional consultant services for the project entitled, “LAX Master Plan Advanced Planning-Program and Design Criteria Development” at LAX.
A contract was awarded to DMJMH+N, Inc. with the RAND Corporation a subcontractor.
Harman and Waters expressed “disappointment and grave concern” with the airport commission action Tuesday, July 6th.
The two congresswomen expressed their concern in a letter to Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn:
“In May, you announced that you were directing the RAND Corporation to conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis of safety and security at LAX, Waters and Harman wrote the mayor.
On Monday, May 14th, Hahn had asked LAX officials to assess the security components of his LAX Master Plan Alternative D.
“The analysis would examine the current layout of LAX and provide an analysis of current threats against the airport and areas of vulnerability,” the mayor said in May.
The mayor in May said, “The analysis would also explore potential threats against any areas of vulnerability in the configuration of LAX proposed by Alternative D, including:
n the centralized rental car facility;
n LAX’s centralized rail and bus terminal;
n the remote drop-off and parking center (Ground Transportation Center at Manchester Square) for passengers arriving at LAX in private vehicles; and
n the people mover that would transport passengers from the remote arrival center to the airport terminals,” the mayor said.
But Harman and Waters said the contract approved by the airport commission “simply does not do that.”
The commission action “seems to give short shrift to essential security issues at LAX,” the two congresswomen claim.
“The objective of a cost-benefit analysis is to study all the security risks at LAX and determine which modernization proposals will do the most to protect against the widest array of potential terrorist threats.
“The scope of work approved by the commission is far too narrow and confining to meet that promise,” Harman and Waters wrote.
Harman and Waters say that, absent such a full-scale study, any Los Angeles City Council deliberations on the LAX master plan and environmental impact report/statement (EIR/EIS) will be made in a vacuum.
The mayor has accepted a compromise approach by Los Angeles Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski that is being called the LAX “consensus plan.”
Under that plan, the LAX master plan Alternative D proposal would be built in “phases” — with the most popular part of the plan built first and the controversial sections of the plan delayed until a later “phase” of development.
But the two congresswomen claim that that phased approach, endorsed by the LAX commission, leaves far too many questions to be answered at a later date, long after an EIR/EIS has been approved and sent to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“Surely, the security of airport customers, employees and passengers is threatened by such a rush to judgment, Harman and Waters said in their letter.
“There is a better way. The RAND Corporation should be asked to conduct the promised comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, and the legal issues to support breaking the EIR/EIS into parts should be carefully considered,” the congresswomen say.
“Once that information is available, the City of Los Angeles can approve the sensible consensus elements of the Master Plan EIR/EIS, and explicitly reject those remaining elements not supported by security concerns and community desire,” Harman and Waters say.
“Such an approach, backed by sound legal opinion, will make security — not speedy approval— the imperative for future deliberations.
“Given the significant terrorist threat to LAX, we can in good conscience do nothing less than that,” the two congresswomen concluded.
“This contract doesn’t study the advantages or disadvantages of the LAX Master Plan Alternative D, and the key is the proposed ground transportation center at Manchester Square,” said Edgar Saenz, a Waters representative and attorney.
Saenz noted that in a press conference Friday, May 14th, that the mayor said the proposed RAND study would consider the concepts of the LAX Master Plan.
“But this study doesn’t look at whether the off-site ground transportation center, buses and rental car combined facility is a good idea, and won’t help the Los Angeles City Council assess how smart or how stupid the plan is,” Saenz said.
Saenz claimed that the agenda for the airport commission July 6th meeting didn’t expressly state that a contract for an LAX security study by the RAND Corporation would be considered, and that he only coincidentally attended the meeting.
DMJMH+N, Inc. is part of an employee-owned consortium of companies known as AECOM, with more than 50 offices world-wide and 12,500 employees.
Hahn said he agrees with Miscikowski that the Los Angeles City Council “will have an abundance of information by the end of summer” regarding the RAND Corporation study.