Two local congresswomen are asking the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) not to accept a proposed Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) master plan until the local review of the controversial plan is completed.
Congresswomen Maxine Waters and Jane Harman have written U.S. transportation secretary Norman Mineta, asking that the FAA not issue an approval of the LAX Master Plan, the plan’s environmental impact statement or other LAX Master Plan documents, or issue an official decision on the LAX plan until the course of local government review is completed.
Waters represents the 35th Congressional District, which includes Westchester, and Harman the coastal 36th Congressional District, which includes a narrow portion of Playa del Rey and Venice.
The congresswomen’s letter to Mineta states that they had received information that the local office of the FAA had intended to approve the LAX airport layout plan after the full Los Angeles City Council voted on LAX modernization, which it approved last week.
The congresswomen warned of reports that the FAA would make its LAX recommendation regardless of local, political and legal developments almost certain to occur.
The congresswomen told Mineta that the specific shape of modernization of the airport is unresolved and that the approval given by the City Council on October 19th would still require further hearings by the Los Angeles Airport Land Use Committee, the Los Angeles City Council, various council committees and citizen meetings.
The congresswomen warned Mineta that local government entities are prepared to pursue appeals or judicial process, should that become necessary.
During a town hall meeting Wednesday, October 13th, Waters told residents opposing the LAX modernization plan that the Los Angeles City Council gave its tacit approval to the city airport department (Los Angeles World Airports) to modernize LAX years ago by allowing millions of city taxpayer dollars to be spent by consultants to the airport plan.
Waters said City Council approval to begin buying property at Manchester Square and removing homes and residents in the path of airport expansion was also part of that tacit agreement.
COMMUNITY BENEFITS AGREEMENT — Also discussed at the meeting was the Community Benefits Agreement package — a program negotiated by the Los Angeles County Labor Federation and airport officials that would provide jobs to neighborhoods “most harmed by LAX operations.”
The Community Benefits Agreement package could “cost airport officials hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Jim Ritchie, LAX deputy executive director of long-range planning.
No federal funding could be allocated to the benefits package, since federal funds go only toward soundproofing and other mitigation efforts directly affecting residents, federal officials have said.
Miguel Contreras, Los Angeles County Labor Federation executive secretary-treasurer and city airport commissioner, said that he and union leaders are trying to convince Los Angeles City Council members that LAX modernization is necessary.
Harry Rose, a Westchester Neighbors Association member, asked who chooses the communities to benefit from the Community Benefits Agreement package.
Labor union leaders are promising union members construction and other jobs during the LAX remodeling plan, and they claim that this benefits package will guarantee those jobs, said Waters.
“Miguel’s (Contreras) testimony before the Los Angeles City Council Planning and Land Use Committee literally threatened City Council members,” Waters alleged.
“The City Council members should have been insulted when Contreras told them, ‘You’d better do this,’ regarding approving the LAX plan,” Waters said.
Waters said City Council members “would lose respect if they do nothing about this,” said Waters.
“My message to Miguel Contreras is that I’m not afraid of him,” said Waters.
“His threats will undermine the organized labor unions,” Waters claimed. “This is all about making money — starting with (former mayor Richard) Reardon, tearing it all down in the name of the developers who then pay back with political contributions.”
” I’m so glad there’s an investigation on ‘pay to play’ in the city, because this is so cynical,” Waters said.
“I am very, very disappointed in the councilwoman for the 11th District (Cindy Miscikowski) for working with Mayor Jim Hahn on the consensus plan to modernize LAX,” Waters said.
“She has been working on the consensus plan for a long time, and knew where she was going,” said Waters.
“You don’t take the first step without knowing what the second step is going to be,” Waters said.
“If she (Miscikowski) had told people what she really thought about LAX expansion and alerted people such as Denny Schneider and others, they would have had the opportunity to tell her not to do the consensus plan,” Waters claimed.
“This airport has not been a good neighbor, with the noise and emissions, there’s a lot of work to be done with this airport,” Waters claimed.
All three candidates to succeed Miscikowski in the 11th City Council District next year have publicly stated that they oppose the current LAX airport modernization plan.