GETTING THERE FROM HERE - To date, a lot of political Powers That Be and media pundits (such as the LA Times editorial staff) have painted the LAX Expansion issue as a reasonable and visionary LA World Airports (LAWA) wanting to modernize their LAX airport into the 21st century...versus a small but loud bunch of spoiled and self-centered Westchester NIMBY's. Which is a great way to try to get them to shut the heck up...except it's NEVER been about LAX vs. Westchester NIMBY's. Should LAWA get its way, it'll probably affect YOU too, regardless of where you live and/or commute.
Provided, of course, you would be affected by a shut-down of Lincoln and Sepulveda Blvds. for a couple of years (of course you would be affected) ... with effects that could last for untold years into the future.
In a recent CityWatch article on March 19th, I wrote about the "GroupThink" at LA World Airports, and how the leadership and management is so dogmatic and rigid on the need to expand LAX into Westchester, that it is incurring unnecessary expenses and legal exposure to the City of Los Angeles.
This is particularly problematic as LAX undergoes a years/decades-overdue Modernization Plan that offers several Alternatives.
In short, LAWA is rigid about pursuing Alternative 1, but the entire Westside region wants Alternative 2. Both sides want Alternative 9.
LAX Modernization Alternative 1 smashes the northern air terminals and moves the northern runways about three football fields north, forcing a reconfiguration of the utilities and major roadways--like Lincoln and Sepulveda Blvds!) North of LAX, and affecting the adjacent commercial district of Westchester (which is an important revenue generator for the City of Los Angeles), to say nothing of the many residential communities (not just Westchester!) already hard-hit by LAX operations.
Alternative 2 rebuilds and modernizes the northern terminals and runways without the reconfiguration, for a third of the cost and without the construction and environmental nightmares that occur with the dramatic revision of LAX that is supported by the Groupthink at LAWA. Alternative 9 establishes MetroRail access to LAX, either directly or via an indirect LAX People Mover.
Both current CD11 Councilmember Bill Rosendahl and CD11 Councilmember-Elect Mike Bonin, as well as virtually every Westside Neighborhood Council and grassroots entity that I am aware of, has written motions that support LAX Modernization Alternatives 2 and 9 but does NOT support LAX Modernization Alternative 1.
Both the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee (which I co-chair, and which has representatives from Westchester to Brentwood and the Pacific Palisades) and the Mar Vista Community Council (of which I am a Boardmember), have both taken a strong stance on favoring Alternatives 2 and 9, and on opposing Alternative 1 with unanimous or near-unanimous motions.
Ditto for every other Neighborhood Council that's weighed in on the matter, because Westside access to/from LAX will be severely impacted by Alternative 1 and, well, why spend a lot of money for nothing? Neighborhood leaders from Venice and throughout the Westside (NOT JUST WESTCHESTER!) are hopping mad about the false narrative being perpetrated on the public, who's learned only a fraction of the truth on this important transportation/land use issue.
Every transportation and urban planner knows that the slow-down or shut-down of Lincoln and Sepulveda Blvds. near LAX would be akin to a major slow-down or shut-down of the 405 freeway. To a large degree, Lincoln and Sepulveda Blvds. are already parallel routes to accommodate the overburdened 405 freeway--and without them ...
1) Venice, Mar Vista, Del Rey and regions north up to Santa Monica and Brentwood would be throttled without the alternative of Lincoln Blvd., and cut-through traffic in these neighborhoods would destroy mobility.
2) Culver City and Inglewood, Palms and regions north up to UCLA and Bel Air would be throttled without the alternative of Sepulveda Blvd., and cut-through traffic in these neighborhoods would similarly destroy mobility.
3) The San Fernando Valley and the South Bay would also get to share the agony and misery of a quasi-shutdown of the 405 freeway next to LAX, and access to/from LAX to the rest of the Southern California region (which really does NOT have opportunities for air travel at other airports like air travel commuters are forced to do at LAX).
Which is all the more reason why Maxine Waters is so infurated at her colleague Henry Waxman's secret cave-in to the LA Chamber of Commerce and a few labor unions who'd probably steal from their own children just to make a few quick bucks...regardless of the idiocy of overbuilding in a manner that will do anything but perform the necessary and overdue Modernization of LAX.
Rep. Maxine Waters should be commended for "telling it like it is" and leading the charge from the federal end of the equation. That Rep. Waxman was secretly supporting LAX expansion while telling Waters and others publicly he hadn't made up his mind does not suggest that Rep. Waxman is in touch with his new district or that he understands the nuances of transportation and land use planning for the redistricted geography he is now supposed to represent.
TO REPEAT: Alternatives 2 & 9 are the smart choices to build a world-class airport while protecting neighboring communities from Westchester and Venice to Culver City and Inglewood, and from the San Fernando Valley and Brentwood to the South Bay, and to promote a much needed regional approach to LA's aviation traffic. Alternative 2 does not unnecessarily rebuild and extend LAX into Westchester, while Alternative 1 does so at three times the cost of Alternative 2. Alternative 9 favors a MetroRail/LAX connection that will enhance regional access to/from LAX, which would likely be the only way to reduce overcongested car traffic (and commuter access) to/from LAX.
On a related note, expansion and rail access to Ontario Airport, also owned by LA World Airports, is strongly favored by Ontario Airports and adjacent cities. Modernization of BOTH LAX AND ONTARIO Airports are imperative goals to be met in the first half of the 21st Century.
Regrettably, LA World Airports, the same entity that has on many occasions resisted MetroRail linkage to LAX for decades, and has only now acquiesced to a land use plan that accommodates MetroRail extension into the Central Airline Terminal loop, has taken a similarly-resistant tone against the region by announcing its choice to support Alternative 1 despite the fact that Alternative 2 was clearly the Environmentally-Preferred Alternative as per the LAX Modernization EIR, and to rebuild the North Runway another 260 feet north at great cost but with no obvious benefit.
Of course, this is the City of the Angels, where megadevelopers and a City Planning Politburo (to say nothing of our current Mayor and, possibly our two mayoral runoff candidates) can give a collective cold shoulder (if not gestures that are much more crude) to the volunteer Environmentalists who fought and fight like hell for mass transit, repaired roads and infrastructure, and clean energy (and the public expenses associated with those endeavors).
After years of fighting for an improved transportation/land use plan for LAX and the adjacent region, isn't it time to end the Groupthink? To put down the Kool-Aid? Let contractors and chambers of commerce smash their own homes for the fun of it..."to create jobs" and the like. Is it THAT hard to show leadership and compromise to derive an economically- and environmentally-smart plan that WON'T tie up the City in lawsuits, and can be done right NOW with public support (and expense, if the plans are laid out right)?
There are PLENTY OF JOBS that will be created, and MONEY SPENT for the benefit of developers, unions and businesses for projects the taxpayers and commuters actually WANT, if Alternatives 2 and 9 are adopted. There will, however, be plenty of jobs that will be HURT OR LOST altogether if Alternative 1 is implemented to the detriment of the adjacent communities and to the region at large.
Remember: those demanding Alternative 1 are the same folks who stiff-armed the rest of the region by preventing the Green Line to access LAX decades ago, and for decades afterwards.
Alternatives 2 and 9, and not Alternative 1, are in the best interests of the City of Los Angeles, the County of Los Angeles, the State of California, and federal transportation policy.
Let's all join in the plea of the many citizens who fought for Measures R and J, and urge Mayor Villaraigosa, Representative Waxman and any other public official to show bold leadership, get a LAX Modernization Plan that can be implemented NOW without political, legal or technical problems or acrimony.
Do the right thing, and let's promote a legacy that we can all be proud of!
(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at Alpern@MarVista.org He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)
Vol 11 Issue 26
Pub: Mar 29, 2013