By Dan Weikel
September 30, 2014
Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin on Tuesday called for hearings to explore whether officials have complied with a 2006 court settlement to facilitate the growth of all the city’s commercial airports, not just busy Los Angeles International.
Bonin, whose district includes LAX, introduced a council motion demanding that Los Angeles World Airports officials report to the council’s Trade, Commerce and Tourism Committee on their progress complying with the settlement’s regionalization provisions.
The councilman said he was concerned about statements by airport officials that might “indicate a serious departure” from requirements intended to spread the growth in air travel from LAX to LA/Ontario International Airport and LA/Palmdale Regional Airport, which closed in 2008.
The comments were raised as part of a continuing lawsuit in which the city of Ontario is seeking to regain control of struggling Ontario International.
“It’s important to take these comments with a grain or two of salt because they are in court documents,” said Bonin, a supporter of spreading airline traffic to other airports. But “if true and accurate, it’s quite disturbing and undercuts the city’s commitment to regional aviation.”
In the records, airport Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey is quoted as saying regionalization is “a silly waste of time” and “a politically driven mantra to appease LAX neighbors.” According to the documents, Lindsey and other high-ranking airport officials said shifting air traffic away from LAX would be self-destructive and a form of economic suicide.
One of Lindsey’s lieutenants also was quoted referring to the Inland Empire, which includes Ontario, as the “inbred Inland Empire.”
Airport officials say their quotes were taken out of context and used in the lawsuit in a misleading way.
Ontario’s attorneys allege that Los Angeles World Airports has violated both an agreement with the city to do its best to increase airline service and the regionalization provisions of the 2006 settlement. Under Los Angeles’ control, the number of passengers at the airport has plummeted from 7.2 million in 2007 to fewer than 4 million last year.
The regionalization terms helped to end a separate lawsuit that challenged then-Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn’s ambitious master plan to expand LAX. A coalition of cities and community groups had sued out of concern that the modernization project would increase traffic congestion, noise and air pollution in nearby neighborhoods.
To read entire story, click here.