A public workshop of the Los Angeles World Airports Specific Plan Amendment Study held Wednesday, December 6th, at the Flight Path Museum and Learning Center at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), drew an audience of approximately 250 people.
Distributed during the meeting were copies of a letter that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had sent to FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) administrator Marion Blakey and a statement by Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl. Both the letter and the statement opposed the reconfiguration of the northern airfield at LAX.
Villaraigosa, Rosendahl, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, other elected officials, ARSAC (Alliance For A Regional Solution to Airport Congestion) and some local residents all oppose the proposed reconfiguration of the northern runways at LAX.
Rosendahl represents the City Council’s 11th District and Waters represents the 35th Congressional District, both of which include the LAX area.
The City of Los Angeles owns LAX, and it is operated by Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the city agency that also owns and operates, Palmdale Airport, Ontario International Airport and Van Nuys Airport.
Villaraigosa’s November 30th letter to Blakey stated, “Absent a clear demonstration that such a change is necessary to ensure the safety of passengers, workers and the surrounding community, I do not support a reconfiguration of the north airfield at LAX.”
Rosendahl’s statement — which he personally distributed at the public workshop — declared, “Unless and until the FAA can demonstrate in a compelling and public manner that there is a genuine risk to public safety, talk of moving the northern runways is premature and unnecessary.”
Rosendahl told the audience that he is opposed to the proposed northern runways reconfiguration, saying, “I take seriously my obligation to protect public safety and have an open mind, but absent evidence to the contrary, I remain unconvinced of the need to move the runways.
“However, even if the FAA demonstrates convincingly that there is a safety concern, moving the runway north is hardly a foregone conclusion.
“There are also viable options to move the runways south, closer to the central terminal and away from Westchester and Playa del Rey neighborhoods,” said Rosendahl.
Attorney Edgar Saenz, who represents Waters on LAX issues, said Waters is strongly opposed to the northern runway reconfiguration and the impacts it would have on the community.
Steve Napolitano, deputy on airport issues for Los Angeles County Fourth District Supervisor Don Knabe — whose district includes the LAX area — said that Knabe strongly opposes reconfiguration until and unless a strong safety need is shown.
LAWA planner Mike Doucette told the audience that the public meetings are being held to get input from local residents about the reconfiguration of the northern runways, and that LAWA has no one specific plan and is presenting several options for the public to review.
Doucette said the concept development goals for the North Airfield address safety concerns with runway incursions and would:
— reduce air quality impacts from existing North Airfield taxiways and gate locations;
— balance long-haul departing aircraft operations between the North and South Airfield; and
— improve runway and taxiway spacing to ease large aircraft movement and safety.
Runway incursions are defined as “Any occurrence at an airport involving an aircraft, vehicle, person or object on the ground that creates a collision hazard or results in loss of separation (inside one mile) with an aircraft taking off, intending to take off, landing or intending to land.”
The fact that 80 percent of the incursions at LAX have occurred on the south runways does not mean the northern runways are safe from incursions, and even one incursion is too many, Dou- cette said.
The new, larger aircraft such as the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 777-300 would obstruct runways and cause delays for other aircraft, necessitating the runway reconfigurations, according to LAWA documentation.
PROPOSED NORTH RUNWAY CONCEPTS — Four different concepts were presented for the proposed reconfiguration of the North Airfield by LAWA.
Concept One would shift the northern runway (24R) 340 feet north (primary arrival runway) at a length of 10,420 feet.
Runway 24L (primary departure runway) would be extended to a length of 11,700 feet.
A center parallel taxiway is proposed between the runways, and the proposed runway separation is 1,040 feet.
Concept Two proposes shifting Runway 24L 100 feet south, extending the runway to 11,700 feet.
Runway 24R would be 9,400 feet in length, approximately 475 feet longer than existing conditions.
A center parallel taxiway is proposed between the two runways, with a proposed runway separation of 800 feet.
Taxiways D and E would be rebuilt and a loss of 16 to 20 gates would occur.
Concept Three would relocate Runway 24L 100 feet south at a length of 10,285 feet, and Runway 24R would remain at the existing 8,925 feet.
The proposed runway separation would be 800 feet and individual exit taxiways would be built.
Taxiways D and E would be rebuilt, with a proposed loss of 16 to 20 gates.
Concept Four would move Runway 24R 100 feet north and it would be 10,420 feet long.
Runway 24L would be extended to 11,700 feet, with runway separations of 800 feet.
This concept limits nine to 11 gates at Terminal 2, Terminal 3 and Tom Bradley International Terminal.
OTHER AIRPORTS — Doucette and consultant Nick Johnson told the audience that they agree that Orange County should assume some of the burden of air travel, since Orange County residents use LAX.
Ontario International Airport is eager for business and can handle more passenger and cargo traffic, said Doucette.
Johnson said it was a travesty that the federal process for the potential use of the El Toro Marine Base as an airport is closed.
Doucette told the audience that a $1.8 million grant for Palmdale Airport will be used to build up services and attract airlines to offer services out of Palmdale.
Incentives are being offered to airlines to move some of their operations to the Palmdale Airport, according to Doucette.
Doucette also mentioned that SCRAA (Southern California Regional Airport Authority) meetings have been instituted again to promote regionalization of air traffic, with the first meeting in October, and the second planned for sometime in January.
SCRAA is a joint powers agreement between the County of Los Angeles, San Bernardino County, Riverside County, Orange County and the City of Los Angeles to work to regionalize air traffic among LAWA airports and other airports in Southern California.
Rosendahl was appointed by Mayor Villaraigosa as the representative for the City of Los Angeles on the SCRAA Board.
PUBLIC COMMENT — Audience members were given the opportunity to address their concerns individually when LAWA representative Julie Gertler circulated through the audience with a cordless microphone.
A stenographer was present to record the meeting and all of the public comments.
Those who did not wish to speak completed a comment card that will be entered into the record, said Gertler.
During public comment, residents expressed anger over the potential reconfiguration, which would adversely affect Westchester, Playa del Rey, and Westchester Parkway if the northern runway is extended in any way, as proposed by several concepts.
Speakers claimed that the proposed runway configurations had more to do with accommodating the new, larger airplanes such as the Airbus A380 than fear of runway incursions.
LAX can’t discriminate against a particular type of airplane, but it is not under a legal requirement to build the infrastructure to accommodate larger aircraft, according to ARSAC officials.
A local attorney said he opposes all of the alternatives, and that not one of them mitigates the increased noise.
He also stated that Los Angeles World Airports is violating the settlement agreement from early 2006 that called for equal or lesser impact for proposed projects, and that the reconfiguration of the northern runways would have a greater impact.
The attorney stated that he has never heard one voice in the community asking that the northern runways be moved toward the community.
Villaraigosa and Rosendahl, as well as other elected officials, oppose the proposed reconfiguration, so where is the purported public desire for the reconfiguration, he asked.
Regionalization of air traffic, mass transit and more usage of Palmdale Airport and Ontario International Airport were of deep concern to audience members.
ARSAC stated in its position paper that “additional layers of safety can be achieved without relocating runways through operational and technological improvements.”
The attorney said these improvements include:
— a fully staffed control tower;
— installation of Airport Surface Detection Equipment Model X;
— deploying runway status lights;
— accelerating the implementation of cockpit displays that receive and broadcast the plane’s exact position to other planes;
— adding a 45-degree taxiway exit at Taxiway BB;
— improving air traffic control hardware;
— reducing incursion potential by simplifying aircraft tracking; and
— following noise abatement procedures of landing only on the outboard and taking off from the inboard.
ARSAC states that if runways need to be relocated, they should be moved south, not north, and avoid lengthening the outboard runway (24R) because of impacts on local communities on the north and east.
While this would force some changes to Terminals 1, 2 and 3, it would allow the associated substandard taxiways, inadequate gate spacing and old infrastructure all to be addressed at the same time, ARSAC states.
MANCHESTER SQUARE AND LAX NORTHSIDE — Doucette said there were no concrete plans for Manchester Square and LAX Northside, and LAWA wanted direction from the public as to what should be included.
On the subject of Manchester Square (between Aviation and La Cienega Boulevards), ARSAC officials proposed commercial development, a conference center and open space use.
They also proposed transit connections at Century and Aviation Boulevards to accommodate future extension of the Green Line to join the Exposition Line, the Harbor Subdivision Line to Union Station, a people mover to LAX and a Crenshaw Line to the Red Line.
For the LAX Northside (350 acres bisected by Westchester Parkway), ARSAC officials call for a substantial inclusion of open space in whatever form that may take, such as ball fields, hiking trails, bike paths, gardens, restored golf course (from 15 to 18 holes), picnic areas, restored dunes, prairie and habitat.
Information on this public meeting and the LAWA concept plan are available by clicking on “LAX Specific Plan Amendment Study, Public Meetings” at www.laxmasterplan.org
Public and written comments have not yet been included on the Web site for “Series 7, December 2006.”