Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCILMEMBERS

FROM: CITY MANAGER

DATE: OCTOBER 1, 2002

SUBJECT: STATUS OF INVESTIGATION OF DOCUMENTS TO DETERMINE THE VIABILITY OF A CLAIM AGAINST THE FAA

RECOMMENDATION

Terminate the agreements with the City of Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach to participate in the investigation of documents by Chevalier, Allen & Lichman and Richards, Watson & Gershon to determine the viability of a claim against the FAA.

BACKGROUND

On July 5, 2000, the City Council unanimously authorized the expenditure of approximately $42,000 for Chevalier, Allen & Lichman and Richards, Watson & Gershon to perform an investigation of relevant documents to determine whether there is a viable claim against the FAA on behalf of Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach. The Council directed staff to develop agreements that would distribute the cost of legal services and equipment purchase equally among the three agencies.

On November 7, 2001 the City Council authorized an additional $22,000 for continuing legal fees.

The City Council received a briefing from Barbara Lichman, of Chevalier, Allen & Lichman in a closed session on September 3, 2002. As a result of the issues discussed in that session a letter from the City Manager to Barbara Lichman was prepared. The letter of September 5, 2002 asked the following questions:

  1. Specifically, what do you (we) want to accomplish over the next twelve months?
  2. How much will it cost?
  3. If you (we) are successful, what will we achieve for the City of Rancho Palos Verdes?

The City Council authorized funding to continue participation in the tri-City effort led by Chevalier, Allen & Lichman through the end of September. If the City determines that it wants to continue the work additional funds will have to be appropriated.

On September 11, 2002 the City Manager received a letter from the City Manager of Redondo Beach advising him that Redondo Beach would not extend the agreement for legal services beyond September 30, 2002. That letter is attached. On September 18, 2002, the City Manager of Hermosa Beach advised us that Hermosa Beach did not intend to extend the agreement.

DISCUSSION

To-date the City has spent over $65,000 in legal fees to determine whether a viable claim exists against the FAA for negative impacts due to aircraft arrivals and departures from Los Angeles International Airport. Due to the variable nature and complexity of the investigation, the attorneys have not yet completed the investigative work and cannot for certain estimate the extent of future legal research.

Regarding the issues raised by the City Council at their meeting of September 3, 2002 and the letter to Barbara Lichman of September 5, 2002, there has been no response. Therefore, there is no "plan" or "strategy" or "estimated budget" to discuss at this time.

In addition to the "investigation of documents" being jointly funded by the cities of Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach the various aircraft noise issues and LAX expansion plans are being addressed through other regional forums. The City of Rancho Palos Verdes is participating in the South Bay Cities Council of Governments Aviation Issues Committee. The Aviation Issues Committee is co-chaired by Mayor McTaggart and meets monthly to discuss all aspects of LAX airport expansion and peripheral issues.

In addition, the City of Rancho Palos Verdes participates in the LAX Community Noise Roundtable, an aircraft noise forum consisting of elected officials, citizens, FAA and LAWA representatives. Mayor McTaggart also chairs that committee. Attached is an August 27, 2002 article from the Daily Breeze discussing a recent "success" of the Noise Roundtable, although not all our citizens will agree that the proposed flight path modifications will reduce noise impacts to the City.

Finally, the City of Los Angeles has indicated that their plans for expansion of LAX have been set aside in favor of improving security through satellite check-in facilities. As yet their plans are conceptual. In addition, it appears that passenger traffic at LAX will be limited to 78 million annual passengers (MAP) compared to the current authorization for 68 MAP and the pre-911 proposal for 98 MAP. Although the County of Los Angeles and many South Bay cities are not opposed to Mayor Hahnís proposal, there is still considerable opposition to any expansion of LAX.

Determining what the role of Rancho Palos Verdes should be in the various air traffic issues impacting Los Angeles County and the South Bay is a City Council policy. Mayor McTaggart has been very active and very vocal representing the Cityís position for the past three years or more. He is our most informed representative on air traffic issues and should be consulted prior to making decisions on City involvement.

Respectfully submitted:
Les Evans
City Manager

Attachments: Letter to Barbara Lichman of September 5, 2002

Letter from City of Redondo Beach of September 5, 2002

August 27, 2002 Article from the Daily Breeze