By Liset Marquez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 02/27/15, 6:39 PM PST
A bipartisan Assembly bill introduced Friday would allow Ontario to issue revenue bonds to finance the acquisition of L.A./Ontario International Airport from Los Angeles.
Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez, D-Chino, and Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, co-authored AB 1455, which allows Ontario to secure the revenue bonds from future revenues and charges from the airport.
The bill has received support from a coalition of state legislators representing San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Riverside and Orange counties.
“This is a big issue in the area, and this bill is the first to come up with an agreement to transfer the airport to Ontario,” Rodriguez said.
Assemblyman Jose Medina, D- Riverside, was a principal co-author, while an additional 15 local legislators backed the bill. Many of those lawmakers use ONT multiple times a week too, and they see the impact that’s happening at the airport, he said.
“A solution can be reached only through an approach that respects both interests. The introduction of this legislation is to be a vehicle for a mutually acceptable agreement on Ontario Airport,” Gomez said.
On Thursday, a Riverside Superior Court judge ruled in favor of L.A. on two key claims in the legal battle for local control of ONT. Judge Gloria Connor Trask upheld the 1967 joint-powers agreement that gave the city control of the airport. The lawsuit, on the three other claims, will go to trial in August.
Rodriguez said his decision to introduce the motion was not swayed by the court ruling. On Feb. 20, Rodriguez announced he had formed a working group with several members in Southern California with the intent of getting both cities to come to an agreement on a transfer.
“The working group will be meeting over the next few weeks, and I am confident that we can reach a solution that is mutually agreeable and beneficial,” said Rodriguez.
Alan Wapner, Ontario councilman and president of the Ontario International Airport Authority , said Rodriguez’ bill was unsolicited.
“Certainly we are extremely appreciative of all the support we are getting from legislators throughout the region,” he said. “What you see is a level of frustration from local legislators who are hearing it through their constituents.”
For its part, Wapner said Ontario is still trying to negotiate a transfer of the airport as well as pursuing litigation.
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