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Thu, Apr 19, 2007

Long Beach Council To Vote On Airport Size

Opponents Urge Incremental Expansion

Expansion plans for the Long Beach (CA) International Airport continue to meet with opposition. In a special session Tuesday, the Long Beach City Council heard a presentation from HOK, the architectural firm contracted to design the expansion.

The new proposal reduces the airport's space to 89,995-square-feet from 97,545-square-feet. Currently, the terminal is 56,320-square-feet. As ANN reported, the environmental impact report allowed for a maximum of 102,850 square feet.

While the firm presented its reduced plan, opponents continued to protest the validity of the EIR, complaining about the potential for increased noise and pollution a larger and busier airport might bring, according to the Long Beach Press Telegram.

HOK achieved the cuts by trimming the size of the security screening area, operations office, conference room, office space and ticketing areas. Opponents of the EIR, which the council certified in 2006, asked the council to "think about the residents."

"The number one thing you are here for is to protect residents," said Lillian Kawasaki, who sits on the Water Replenishment District. She urged the council to make incremental additions and claims the city, by law, cannot decrease the airport's size.

The Long Beach Unified School District and the Long Beach PTA have filed lawsuits to challenge the EIR, thus prompting Tuesday's meeting. The lawsuits demands the city provide noise soundproofing for a number of campuses should the expansion occur.

Terry Jensen, who opposes the EIR certification, warned against approving too large an airport.

"We should not build any excess space in that facility," he said.

The city should consider all legal and environmental consequences of an expansion as well as the fact that consultants gave differing accounts, according City Councilman Patrick O'Donnell.

"This is a really subjective exercise," he said.

The council will vote on the airport's size at its next meeting on April 24.

FMI: www.longbeach.gov/airport/

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