I kept an open mind going into last week’s council meeting, where a decision would be made on allowing a feasibility study on allowing international flights at Long Beach Airport. I came out convinced our city council is a making a poor long term decision. These council members may well be remembered as the group that started Long Beach’s downward spiral.
There were 38 speakers that went to the podium to give their opinion, of which three quarters were adamantly against the study moving forward. Of those on the 'for' side, almost all worked for Jetblue.
The Grunion had an editorial months back concerning this issue which said Long Beach was at a crossroads with this decision. They asked, "Do we want to remain a sleepy backwater to Los Angeles or do we want to grow into something more"? If you have lived in Long Beach for any length of time, the decision should be easy. What has always made Long Beach special is its small town feel within a diversified and vibrant city. Long Beach was a secret multi-generation residents were happy to keep to themselves. How ironic that just as the Long Beach buzz was starting to gather steam, these council members are willing to tag east Long Beach and historic Bixby Knolls as less than desirable areas due to their proximity to an airport.
No neighborhood in Long Beach is an island unto itself. A fall from grace in these neighborhoods could very well be what tips the scales of Long Beach’s future success downward.
Moving forward with allowing an international airport opens the door to changes in the established ordinance, meaning there could be increased flight activity and a change in the hours of operation. Or even if the number of flights don’t increase, destinations will change. Those convenient flights to New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Portland may be a thing of the past.
So either an international airport is a success by bringing in more flights, which is not good for Long Beach because it will cause denigration of healthy neighborhoods, or it is a failure and the city will be left holding the bag for the cost of maintaining a customs facility.
So the council voted to move forward with yet another feasibility study, even though they already have two that say this isn’t feasible. The Mayor and the majority of the Council seem resolved to bending to Jetblues wishes and will continue to pay for studies until they receive the desired answer. But there is still time to put pressure on these elected officials and the time is now.
I can hear residents outside the flight path years from now saying, I just didn’t know it would have such an impact on the city as a whole. Yes, Councilperson Stacy Mungo was right about bringing in more tax revenue if there is a mass migration under the flight paths, but it is a short-sighted view. A tumble in property values will hurt in the long run which will effect every neighborhood.
I urge you to write to the Mayor@LongBeach.gov and let him know you love Long Beach airport as it is today. Let him know you are worried about changes to the noise ordinance. I urge you to talk to your friends and families that live in all areas of Long Beach and ask them to reach out to Mayor Garcia and the Council. This isn’t an issue that will affect the few thousands that live under the flight path, this issue will ultimate affect the entire city.