Saturday, February 11, 2017

Long Beach Airport (KLGB) decision protected residents’ quality of life: Guest commentary



By Rae Gabelich

After reading news articles and opinions related to the Long Beach City Council’s vote to not approve the JetBlue-requested Federal Inspection Service (FIS) facility for Long Beach Airport, a resident commented, “Everyone has the right to act in their own self interest.” The definition of self- interest is “a concern for one’s own advantage and well being.” Well-being: “the state of being happy, healthy or successful.”

Why are the efforts of concerned Long Beach residents wrong when they stand up for their own “self-interest” in protecting their investments and their quality of life concerns? How does that qualify as naysayers, CAVE people (Citizens Against Virtually Everything), obstructionists, vocal minorities and other negative titles?

In both the 2013 and 2016 FIS studies, it is stated that the amount of potential incremental passenger activity appears to be limited. A Long Beach State economic forecast report also explained that “the impact on the Long Beach economy will be small” and stated the five reasons for drawing that conclusion. Visit lbneighborhoodsfirst.com for more specifics.

The Long Beach Airport (LGB) bond debt of $110 million is pledged for Series 2010 bonds through 2040. The Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) annual revenue of $6.4 million is currently allocated at $3.6 million for current debt service and $2.8 million committed to airfield maintenance and PEP projects that include terminal and parking facilities, roadways and rental car improvements. This money is generated from the $4.50 PFC charges per ticketed passenger.

Yes, we currently enjoy a Moody’s high rating of A3, and our city should want to be certain that will not change. Although the Fitch ratings do express some concern over the JetBlue reduction in flights over the past several years. In 2012, JetBlue began to manipulate the formula that would allow it to reduce its LGB flights but still hold the slots. That loss of service resulted in a $2 million to $3 million loss of revenue for the LGB fund. Also, in 2013 LGB pledged to the ratings agencies to issue no future debt within the foreseeable future and cancelled the LGB commercial paper program.

The Jacobs FIS Feasibility Study did say that once operations are fully implemented, $185 million in regional impacts could be realized in Los Angeles and Orange counties while our city benefit will be minimal.

So, what are the economic concerns of many Long Beach residents? For many, their home is the No. 1 business investment for their family’s future. Others have invested in real estate to improve their retirement portfolios to secure their futures. Either way, they too are concerned about their future “bottom line.”

In a commentary for the Press Telegram (“Long Beach Airport vote wasn’t grounded in reality,” Feb. 3), Randy Gordon of the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce comments on what a good corporate citizen JetBlue has been with all of its civic involvement and hundreds of thousands of dollars in local donations. He wonders how much longer this good corporate citizen can continue to give to a community whose elected officials signaled they are not wanted here.

The council and the majority of residents who spoke stated they loved JetBlue and the service it brings to LGB, and asked JetBlue to provide even more domestic travel opportunities.

I personally would suggest that more attention be paid to after-hours noise violations that have disrupted residents between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. on 133 nights in the past 12 months.

The 2001-2007 battle over the HNTB study that suggested the airport terminal grow from a 48,580-square-foot facility to a super-sized terminal of 106,000 square feet was won not in spite of airport impacted residents but because of their diligence in standing in support of reasonable sizing for LGB. Today we have a right-sized municipal airport of 89,000 square feet.

It wins awards and is appreciated by the traveling public. Let’s keep it that way!

A respectful thank you to Councilwoman Stacy Mungo and Councilwoman Suzie Price for their willingness to speak on behalf of thousands of Long Beach residents.

All Long Beach matters!

Rae Gabelich was a member of the Long Beach City Council from 2004 to 2012 and is president of LBHUSH2/LB Neighborhoods First.

Source: http://www.presstelegram.com/opinion

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