Proposed Runway Expansion at Los Angeles International Airport Challenged

JUNE 6, 2013

A union representing airport workers and a community group filed lawsuits Friday challenging the analysis of environmental impacts of a planned expansion of the north airfield at Los Angeles International Airport. The expansion plan shifts the northernmost runway 260 feet closer to residents in Westchester and Playa del Rey.

The lawsuit was filed by Service Employees International Union United Service Workers West and names Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles World Airports, and the City of Los Angeles as defendants. It claims the city failed to follow state environmental laws in studying the air pollution, noise, and traffic impacts of the plan. The complaint states that a new environmental impact report should be prepared.

Union Spokesman Jacob Hay said the union's members support most of the $4.8 billion plan to modernize the airport, but not the shifting of the northern runways to create a larger taxiway.

A residents’ group known as Alliance for a Regional Solution to Airport Congestion also announced that it has filed a lawsuit challenging environmental studies of the project. “We have been the strongest advocates for fixing and improving service at LAX,” said Denny Schneider, president of the alliance. “This is a sad day for L.A. because some people are willing to ignore reality to further special interests instead of acting responsibly.”

Airport officials have said the airfield changes are necessary to accommodate larger aircraft, such as the Airbus 380, that can only safely land or take off on the airport’s southern runways. Los Angeles World Airports Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey said environmental studies of the project have been “extremely thorough and we trust, that as it is reviewed, it will hold up under scrutiny.”

Union officials contend their members are impacted by the project because of the proximity of their jobs to the airfield. Some workers also live in nearby neighborhoods, according to the union. “We breathe this air day in and day out and so do our families,” according to Robin Wilson, an LAX passenger service agent and union member.

The union is one of several groups opposing the project approved by the Los Angeles City Council. Culver City and Ontario officials have also vowed to sue over the project.

Source: Based on a report in