By Liset Marquez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Created: 02/18/2012 04:36:28 PM PST

Ontario’s efforts to wrest control of LA/Ontario International Airport from Los Angeles is gaining traction with a wave of cities throughout Southern California — spanning Laguna Niguel to Barstow and various cities in between, all passing resolutions backing the Inland Empire initiative.

In recent weeks cities in the Inland Empire such as Claremont, Chino Hills, Norco and Rancho Cucamonga have voiced their opinions about the battle over the struggling medium-hub facility. They have been joined by cities in the east San Gabriel Valley that are weighing in on the financial significance the airport has to their region.

“Ontario airport is an economic stimulus to this region, and we as municipalities, as regions and governments, as those who do business in this area, need to support this effort to regain Ontario International Airport as it used to be,” said Chino Hills Councilwoman Gwen Norton-Perry.

For the past couple of years, Ontario officials have lobbied for local control, claiming they would be able to convert ONT — which serves four counties — into a competitive regional airport again.

The decline in air service at ONT from 2007 to 2011 led to a $494 million blow to the Inland Empire’s
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economy and the loss of more than 9,000 jobs, according to new figures released by Ontario.

“The philosophy of many cities is that local control is the best thing. Today, it’s Ontario but tomorrow it can be them,” said Ontario Councilman Alan Wapner.

The recent push comes less than a month after Ontario launched a public-relations effort to sway Los Angeles voters in the quest to regain control of ONT.

Included in those efforts were 600 USB drives sent to city managers and mayors, which provide them with a sample letter that can be sent to their local politicians urging their support for local control.

Area politicians have been using those sample letters in recent weeks to adopt their own resolutions. In most cases the action has been taken with one sweeping vote while others have sparked discussions and even debates from the dais.

“It’s an appropriate thing and there is no reason why someone else should be governing what goes on in a major facility like that, that isn’t in our same geographic area,” said Chino Hills Mayor Art Bennett, whose city this week passed a resolution supporting Ontario.

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