Mayoral candidates give their positions on LAX runway proposal
When Los Angeles’ mayoral candidates appeared Tuesday night at a debate near LAX, the spotlight naturally turned to a controversial plan to separate the two northern runways by 260 feet--a plan that is vociferously opposed by neighboring communities because of noise, air-quality and congestion concerns.
Kevin James announced that he opposed the move.
“What I need to know as mayor is whether or not we can get to the economic, the safety goals we have set for the airport in other ways,” he said when asked about the runway proposal during the session at Loyola Marymount University. “No, I’m not there yet.”
City Councilwoman Jan Perry said if she was mayor today, she would veto the plan if it came to her desk, but since she is not, she needs to study it more and visit the site to assess the potential noise and air-quality impacts.
“That’s what I’m going to do so I can make a decision based in reality,” she said.
Councilman Eric Garcetti and Controller Wendy Greuel demurred.
Garcetti said he would only support such a plan if there was no other way to achieve the goals. But there may be other ways to meet the objectives, which are safety and the ability of large planes to take off and land more easily, he said.
“I am talking to the community right now to see if that case can be made,” he said.
Greuel said that city leaders must consider safety, competitiveness and neighborhood concerns in making their decision, and as mayor she would ensure that local residents would be part of any negotiations.
Former technology executive Emanuel Pleitez said that if the community opposes the proposal, it should not go forward, but after learning that the airport commission endorsed it, he said that he favored moving forward as long as negative impacts are mitigated. He then chided the elected officials for failing to take a stand.
“These are our elected officials. They’ve been in elected office 10 years. They’ve had enough time to study, to talk to the community, to go to the site,” he said. “They need to make decisions.”
-- Seema Mehta
Photo: L.A. mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greul, Kevin James, Jan Perry and Emanuel Pleitez conclude the debate at Loyola Marymount University Tuesday night. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times