We attended last night’s Emergency Airport Meeting. When I say we, I mean me, with my husband, who rarely attends these types of community meetings. As luck would have it, this was probably one he didn’t need to attend.
It isn’t that I am not grateful for our high ranking city employees taking time out of their busy schedule to educate us about the history of the Long Beach airport, but I would be hard pressed to say there was anything about this meeting that constituted an emergency. This was the same history lesson they gave to the City Council at the request of Eighth District Councilman Al Austin, at the end of February. If you want a copy of the this presentation, the city attorney’s office would be happy to email one upon request.
The meeting was held in a large room at the Art Expo Center on Atlantic. This space is leased by the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association and is used for community meetings such as this. I would venture to say there were approximately 100 people attending. There was a sign-in table and also a donation box.
Rae Gabelich, the former 8th District Councilperson started off the evening by introducing new members of the board. To be honest I was not familiar with the organization she was introducing. The placards being handed out protesting the International Airport have the website LBNeighborhoodsFirst.com written along the bottom, which gives some information.
Next Gabelic introduced the panel sitting at the front of the room: Charlie Parkin, City Attorney, Mike Mais, Assistant City Attorney and Doug Haubert, City Prosecutor.
Conspicuously missing was Al Austin, the representative in this area. A member of his staff read his statement explaining he had a scheduling conflict and expressed his concern for any changes to the airport ordinance.
Jeff Kellogg, a former Long Beach Councilman was the first to present. He spoke at length about his past involvement with the airport issue. My take away was even though the council was splintered on many issues during his term, on the airport issue all the districts were in unison.
Next Jane Nadeau, a Long Beach Neighborhoods First Team Member gave us a clear explanation of the term General Aviation. She also went on to explain the difference between a Landing Fee Only Airport and a Port of Entry Airport. I believe she said Jet Blue is not seeking to become a Port of Entry Facility.
Mike Mais gave the afore mentioned slide show presentation on the history of the Long Beach Airport and the history of the litigation concerning the airport. Given the fact that this lawsuit holds the record for the longest in history at twelve years, you can rightly assume the presentation was a bit lengthy as well. Doug Haubert “brought it on home” with a brief lesson on statues, fines and other legal stuff.
By this time the meeting had gone past its 7:30 scheduled end time so when Joe Sopo, who is a new member of this organization’s board, called for a moment for stretching, we thought it a good time to slip out. At this point it was clear that there was no information to report or questions that could be answered. I applaud the group’s efforts on raising awareness and concern about possible airport expansion, and hope they can use their collected database and donations to keep all the neighborhoods informed of upcoming Council meetings that address airport issues.
In the meantime, be on the lookout for our new 4th District Councilman Daryl Supernaw to host community meetings covering this issue and others. I suggest you email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be placed on their mailing list or call the council office directly at 562-570-4444.