Drollinger Properties in Westchester has severed ties with the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce based on the chamber’s decision to support a plan that would move the northernmost runway at Los Angeles International Airport 260 feet closer to the community.
The Board of Airport Commissioners voted 6-1 Feb. 5 in favor of Los Angeles World Airports’ recommendation for Specific Plan Amendment Study (SPAS) Alternatives 1 and 9, which include a proposal for separating the LAX north runways among other modernization projects.
Officials at Drollinger Properties, the largest property management and commercial real estate brokerage firm in Westchester, said the company’s decision to pull support from the chamber was due to the impacts they believe the airport plan will have on the local community.
“While we recognize the long history and cooperative efforts we have shared over the past 60 years, the chamber’s decision to support an airport expansion that we perceive as detrimental to the interests of our company and our community leaves us no other choice but to withdraw our support of the chamber,” said Karen Dial, Drollinger’s daughter and president of Drollinger Properties.
Drollinger Properties has maintained that moving the runway is not necessary for safety or any other reason, and moving the runway would negatively impact the Westchester community’s ability to contribute to the Los Angeles community and residents’ quality of life.
As a result of the chamber’s endorsement of the airport recommendation, some other local members, including Westchester Watch Works and attorney Val Velasco – the only airport commissioner to oppose the plan – have sent statements to the commerce organization indicating they are cutting ties as well.
Andy Loos, vice president of development for Drollinger Properties, said the company disputes airport officials’ claims that the runway move is necessitated primarily due to safety reasons.
“We absolutely support a modern, efficient and economically viable airport,” said Loos, adding that the company endorses Los Angeles World Airports’ selection of Alternative 9 for ground-related improvements. “We wholeheartedly believe that LAX can modernize, enhance the passenger experience, improve airfield efficiency and augment safety measures without moving the runway even an inch closer to the community.”
Christina Davis, president and CEO of the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce, told The Argonaut that the issue of LAX and its growth have not been taken lightly by the chamber and its leadership.
“Our organization has done the heavy lifting and reviewed all documents in regard to the SPAS draft EIR,” Davis said. “We invited members of the chamber both for and against the movement, local residents, community leaders, hotel representatives, airline representatives, small business owners, transportation managers and nonprofit leaders to review, analyze, discuss, strategize and comment on their findings. During this time, we have worked with airport leadership to minimize the impact of the airport’s modernization plans to our local community.
“The chamber’s decision was made according to our long standing process on policy decisions that ultimately concluded with a 16-2 vote of the full Board of Directors, with Drollinger Properties one of the only two dissenting votes.”
Davis said the chamber believes the airport’s preferred alternative protects the community from the potential of losing homes and businesses that are threatened by an even larger proposed runway move towards the community.
“We could not see that happen and we are proud that our involvement in the process has helped stop a repeat of the 1970s when homes and businesses were in fact lost,” Davis said. “Just as importantly, our involvement has placed bringing the (Metro) Green Line to LAX front and center to the planning process to help solve traffic problems for years to come.”
“We may not agree on the best way to get there, but both Drollinger and the chamber share a mutual goal of a thriving Westchester for years to come. The goal should not be to distance ourselves from each other, as we both agree on most issues but continue to work together on the best outcome for all stakeholders, residents, businesses and the airport.”