By Art Marroquin Staff Writer
Posted: 06/17/2011 09:58:17 PM PDT

The Los Angeles City Council this week opposed state legislation that calls for establishing an Inland Empire-based authority to take control of LA/Ontario International Airport from the city of Los Angeles.

The move comes after the state Senate approved a measure that would allow a seven-member panel to negotiate a transfer plan for the Ontario airport.

Senate Bill 466, introduced earlier this year by state Senate Republican leader Bob Dutton of Rancho Cucamonga, will be considered later this month by the Assembly’s Committee on Local Government.

“It’s unfortunate to have this consternation with a senator who’s trying to get headlines rather than do good policy,” Los Angeles City Councilman Tony Cardenas said.

“What we have to do as a city is defend one of our assets,” Cardenas said. “We should not allow anyone else to tell us how to run it.”

Dutton’s bill does not call for directly seizing control of the Ontario airport from the city of Los Angeles.

Instead, the measure would allow for structured negotiations between Los Angeles officials and a new airport panel composed of appointees from the city of Ontario and San Bernardino County, said Dutton’s spokesman, Larry Venus.

Dutton “is generally in favor of local control, and that means an airport located in the Inland Empire should be controlled by an entity in the Inland Empire,” Venus said. “It wouldn’t make sense for the Inland Empire to direct operations for Los Angeles International Airport, so why should Los Angeles control Ontario Airport?”

Los Angeles World Airports assumed management of Ontario Airport in 1967 and then purchased the facility in 1985.

Ontario has long been considered a critical element in LAWA’s regional plan to shift flights from the bustling terminals at LAX to smaller airports across Southern California.

Before a transfer back to the Inland Empire can take place, Los Angeles city officials want to know the fate of 300 airport employees who technically work for LAWA.

Additionally, city leaders want assurances that a management transfer would “satisfactorily compensate” LAWA’s previous investments in the facility, including a $270million overhaul that led to the construction of two terminals.

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