City of El Segundo Drops Suit Over Los Angeles Airport Expansion

FEBRUARY 17, 2001

The City of El Segundo, Los Angeles International Airport's most contentious neighbor, announced Friday that it is dropping its lawsuit challenging what it said were illegal growth policies at LAX. El Segundo officials said the city will continue to oppose airport expansion. They said the suit was withdrawn because it had served its purpose by pushing Los Angeles World Airports, the city agency that runs the airport, into complying with environmental laws.

Airport officials fired back, saying that the suit was "frivolous and politically motivated." "When this lawsuit was filed, we vigorously asserted it had no merit, and today's dismissal only underscores that point," said Lydia H. Kennard, executive director of the airport. She said the city was trying to put the best possible face on its decision to drop the suit.

Clement Shute, El Segundo's attorney, said he was directed by the City Council to drop the suit. He said the decision to drop the suit should not be interpreted as a sign that the South Bay city was softening its stance against the airport.

The city is still strongly opposed to the $12-billion airport modernization plan, which would boost the number of passenger trips by 24 million over the next 15 years, Shute said. "We are going forward with vigorous opposition to the master plan," Shute said. "The city's opposition is still full-blown.

The suit, filed in November 1999, argued that airport managers had repeatedly brushed aside legal requirements for environmental studies in approving projects expanding the facility's capacity.

The airport, planned for 40 million passengers a year, now handles more than 65 million, creating noise, air pollution and traffic problems for its neighbors, critics say.

"Since we filed the lawsuit, [Los Angeles World Airports] has begun complying with environmental disclosure laws," said El Segundo Mayor Mike Gordon.

Source: Los Angeles Times