Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS

FROM: CITY MANAGER

DATE: NOVEMBER 5, 2003

SUBJECT: LAX MASTER PLAN DRAFT SUPPLEMENTAL (EIR) ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT AND COMMENTS

RECOMMENDATION

  1. Consider comments from the South Bay Cities Council of Governments and other available outside sources regarding the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report on the LAX Master Plan.
  2. Authorize Mayor to send a letter of comments to the Los Angeles World Airports and Federal Aviation Administration by the public comment deadline date, November 7, 2003.

BACKGROUND

The stated objectives for the LAX Master Plan project are (page ES-1 of the Draft EIR):

  1. Respond to local and regional demand for air transportation during the period 2000-2015, taking into consideration the amount, type, location and timing of such demand.
  2. Ensure that new investments in airport capacity are efficient and cost-effective, maximizing the return on existing infrastructure capital.
  3. Sustain and advance the international trade component of the regional economy and the international commercial gateway role of the City of Los Angeles.

On July 15, 1997, the City Council adopted Resolution 97-73 acknowledging the potential for adverse environmental impacts to the City as a result of the proposed LAX expansion plan and pledging to monitor and participate in the environmental review process.

On March 16, 1999 the City Council adopted the position that supports the consideration of a regional airport strategy to reallocate commercial airport resources in Southern California.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) released the Draft EIR/EIS for the LAX Proposed Master Plan Improvements on January 18, 2001. The 2001 Draft EIR/EIS analyzed the following three "build" alternatives and one "No Action/No Project" Alternative.

Alternative "A" would add a new runway to the north airfield. The two existing northern runways would be lengthened and all runways would be further separated from one another. The improvements included in Alternative "A" would enable LAX to accommodate approximately 98 MAP (million annual passengers), 4.2 MAT (million annual tons) of cargo and approximately 2,700 daily flights by 2015.

Alternative "B" would add a new runway to the south airfield and lengthen two existing southern runways and separate all the runways further from each other. Improvements would allow LAX to accommodate approximately 98 MAP, 4.2 MAT of cargo and approximately 2,700 daily flights by 2015.

Alternative "C" would not add any runways to the airfield. Alternative "C" was then the preferred alternative of LAWA. Alternative "C" would move two existing runways, widen one runway, lengthen three runways and separate all runways from one another. Improvements would allow LAX to accommodate approximately 89 MAP, 4.2 MAT of cargo and 2,300 flights by 2015.

For Alternatives "A", "B", and "C" there are several common improvements:

A new passenger terminal complex would be constructed at the west end of the airport and an LAX Expressway would be build alongside I-405 and would provide direct freeway access to the airport. The light rail Green Line would be extended into LAX, the taxiway system would be improved and new internal roadways and cargo facilities would be constructed.

"No Action/No Project" Alternative describes existing conditions at and near LAX as modified by what would be expected to occur in the future (assuming natural growth), based upon current projects that are already planned and approved at the airport. Capacity and operating constraints would allow for future passenger growth to approximately 79 MAP, 3.1 MAT of cargo and approximately 2,279 daily flights by 2015.

On July 17, 2001, the City Council sent a comment letter on the Draft Environmental Impact report for the LAX Master Plan to the Los Angeles World Airports and Federal Aviation Administration. The letter requested consideration to incorporate a regional approach to airport expansion and to examine overflight noise, air quality and airspace utilization impacts upon the City.

DISCUSSION

In response to the terrorist incidents of September 11, 2001, Mayor of Los Angeles initiated efforts to produce a new alternative to the LAX Master Plan, also known as "Alternative D", to address public safety and airport security issues. The Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a Supplemental Draft Environmental impact report (EIR) on Alternative "D". The public comment period on the Supplemental Draft EIR has been extended to November 7th. Staff requests the City Council to consider the information available on the Supplemental Draft EIR for Alternative "D" and to authorize the Mayor to send a letter of comments to LAWA.

According to LAWA, Alternative "D" will be designed to accommodate a passenger activity level of 78.9 million annual passengers and 3.1 million annual tons of cargo by 2015. Alternative "D" will provide a new Ground Transportation Center north of Century Boulevard. An Intermodal Transportation Center with connection to the MTA Green Line will be located north of Imperial Avenue and east of Aviation Boulevard. These new improvements will be connected to the Central Terminal Area via an Automated People Mover system.

Some major components of Alternative "D":

  • Terminal facilities would be reconfigured to separate vehicles away from passenger processing facilities and gates.
  • Existing parking garages in the central terminal will be demolished to provide passenger-processing facilities. Existing terminals one, two and three will be demolished to provide for runway separation and replaced by a linear (east-west) concourse.
  • Runways will be re-configured to construct new parallel taxiways to reduce the potential for runway incursions.
  • Aircraft gates will decrease from existing 163 to 153.
  • Ground Transportation Center will include parking and curbside drop off and pick up, a people mover and installation of new baggage security and distribution systems to link with the Central Terminal.
  • A consolidated rental car facility will be built on the present Lot "C" site and include a 150,000 square foot customer service area and walkway to the automated people mover.
  • Enhance safety and security at LAX by limiting access by private vehicles to the main airport structure; parking structures would be relocated away from the main airport; centralized passenger terminals would be constructed.

To assist the City Council’s understanding of the LAX Master Plan Supplemental Draft EIR, below and attached to this report are initial comments received by the South Bay Cities Council of Governments from consultants retained by the County of Los Angeles and the cities of El Segundo and Inglewood.

Comments from consultant for the County of Los Angeles:

  1. The proposed Master Plan Alternative "D" may not constrain growth at LAX.
  2. Airport security may not be fully achieved by Alternative "D".
  3. Environmental Justice may not be well served by Alternative "D".
  4. The Baseline Year of 1996 is not adequate for a 2003 assessment.
  5. The No Project Alternative does not offer a consistent yardstick for measuring project impacts.
  6. Traffic, noise, and air quality impacts have been shifted eastward.
  7. Major changes in the project may call for preparation of a subsequent EIR.
  8. Growth-inducing impacts may be significantly greater than stated.
  9. A new interchange for the I-405 Freeway at Lennox Blvd. is recommended if Alternative "D" is chosen.
  10. Document is lacking in mitigation measures due to inadequate analysis/information of traffic/transportation projects, enhancements, and improvements.
  11. The County is requesting that the City of Los Angeles put deed restrictions on three areas of the airport that could be used for additional passenger terminals, runways or aircraft parking.

FISCAL IMPACT

None associated with this report.

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED

Gina A. Park

Assistant to the City Manager

REVIEWED BY

Les Evans

City Manager

Attachments:

  1. Draft Comment Letter
  2. 2001 Comment Letter submitted by City Council
  3. SBCCOG Memo RE: LAX Master Plan and Comments
  4. Executive Summary of Comments prepared by consultants of the County of Los Angeles.

November XX, 2003

Mr. Jim Ritchie

City of Los Angeles

Los Angeles World Airports

LAX Master Plan Office

PO Box 92216

Los Angeles CA 90009-2216

Mr. David Kessler, AICP

U.S. Department of Transportation

Federal Aviation Administration

PO Box 92007

Los Angeles CA 90009-2007

RE: Draft Supplemental EIS/EIR for the LAX Master Plan

Dear Mr. Ritchie and Mr. Kessler:

The future of LAX and its impact upon traffic congestion, noise and air pollution, and human safety in the air and on the ground are of great interest to the City Council and residents of Rancho Palos Verdes. The City Council submitted a comment letter dated September 20, 2001 regarding the LAX Master Plan Draft EIS/EIR.

On November 5, 2003 the City Council of Rancho Palos Verdes reviewed key components of the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report for the LAX Master Plan, Alternative "D". On behalf of the City Council and residents of Rancho Palos Verdes, I respectfully submit the following new concerns for consideration in the final EIS/EIR:

  1. 1996 Baseline Data Inadequate for EIS/EIR
  2. The draft EIS/EIR document predominately utilizes 1996 data as the benchmark for mitigation considerations and comparisons between Alternatives. However, in some instances the baseline year has been updated to year 2000. We feel the EIS/EIR should establish a consistent baseline year throughout the document and that year should be the most current available.

  3. Supplemental EIR Non-Compliance with CEQA
  4. While the City applauds Mayor James Hahn’s initiative to develop Alternative "D", in response to the September 11th terrorist attacks, the City believes the proposed plans under Alternative "D" are significantly different from the other LAX Master Plan Alternatives "A", "B", and "C" and therefore incomparable in purpose and vision. The City concurs with the South Bay Cities Council of Governments that a new revised draft EIS/EIR should have been prepared to review Alternative "D" and it’s comprehensive impacts instead of addressing Alternative "D" in a Supplement to the 2001 Draft EIS/EIR.

  5. Capping Growth at 78 Million Annual Passengers
  6. The goal of limiting passenger capacity through design control measures seems implausible given that the runway designs of Alternative "D" are similar to Alternative "C". While both Alternatives lengthen both north runways and the separation distance in between, Alternative "D" actually extends one runway (RW 6L/24R) nearly 1,000 feet more than Alternative "C". We believe the capacity of the Alternative "D" runways is underestimated at 78.9 million annual passengers and more comparable to Alternative "C" projection of 89.6 million passengers. In addition, the proposed runway improvements of Alternative "D", unlike Alternative "C", accommodates the new Super Jumbo A380 aircraft with about 600 seats, which will increase the number of passengers per aircraft operation. Considering the capacity growth potential of these runway improvements, the City is unclear how forecasts in 2015 (121.06 passengers per air carrier operation) can be lower than the actual number of passengers per air carrier operation in year 2002 (123.18 passengers).

  7. Security Measures

The enhanced security measures and improvements advocated by Alternative "D" seem counterintuitive. The emphasis of centralizing major components, such as passenger check-in and parking structures, may potentially create unfavorable conditions for a single point of possible disruption, i.e. the proposed People Mover circulation system. The RAND Corporation conducted an independent study of the proposed security measures and determined that security would not increase from current LAX safety levels. The City requests LAWA and the FAA to take into consideration the RAND Corporation Study findings.

Lastly, the City Council of Rancho Palos Verdes believes a regional solution for addressing increased passenger and air cargo demand is essential for Southern California and again requests LAWA and the FAA to consider a regional airport system as a viable alternative in the discussion of the LAX Master Plan.

We look forward to your response to our comments.

Sincerely,

Douglas W. Stern

Mayor