Neighboring City Sues Los Angeles over Airport Expansion

NOVEMBER 26, 1999

The city of El Segundo filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Los Angeles, charging that Los Angeles is attempting to circumvent regulations by dividing the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) master expansion plan into several small projects. El Segundo officials allege those projects, which include construction of new commuter terminals and reconfiguration of some runways and taxiways, are designed to increase airport activity without drawing public scrutiny.

The lawsuit asks the Los Angeles Superior Court to require airport managers to conduct environmental reviews before continuing with the projects, which El Segundo officials say are designed to boost cargo and passenger volume at the airport.

Numerous communities bordering the airport oppose expansion of the airport because neighborhoods are fouled by the noise, traffic, and pollution.

Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and his aides deny any subterfuge, adding that the projects in question are just modernizing efforts required to keep the airport functioning properly. "[Without the construction] you're going to have gridlock like you have on Christmas and Thanksgiving every day of the year," Riordan said.

However, El Segundo Mayor Mike Gordon said Los Angeles is acting "behind closed doors, with a handful of officials making these decisions at the expense of all of us." The tiny South Bay community is calling for other airports in Palmdale, and Riverside and San Bernardino counties, to absorb much of Southern California's increasing airport demand.

For Riordan, the proposed massive expansion for LAX has become a top priority. The construction of new terminals and runways, estimated at a cost of about $12 billion, is expected to spur job growth and prosperity throughout Los Angeles and surrounding areas, he said.

Los Angeles International Airport was designed to handle 40 million passengers a year. About 61 million passengers used the airport last year, a number expected to rise to 98 million in 2015, according to airport officials.

Source: Associated Press, in Antelope Valley Press, Palmdale, California