The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday ordered a review to determine whether Los Angeles airport officials have complied with a 2006 court settlement that required them to disperse the growth in flights at busy LAX to other airports in the region.
Supervisors directed the county counsel’s office and William T. Fujioka, the county’s chief executive officer, to assess how well Los Angeles World Airports has implemented the agreement that ended a legal challenge to the plans of former Mayor James Hahn to modernize Los Angeles International Airport. They must report back to the board in 30 days.
The county, along with neighborhood organizations and communities surrounding LAX, was a party in the 2005 lawsuits. Among other things, the settlement directed Los Angeles airport officials to seek an expansion of cargo and passenger operations at LA/Ontario International Airport and LA/Palmdale Regional Airport.
Inland Empire officials are now seeking to take control of Ontario, saying Los Angeles has done too little to halt a severe decline in passengers since 2007. The Palmdale airport, which struggled to retain airlines, closed in 2009.
Airport officials say they have tried to encourage airlines to locate service at Ontario, but the severe economic downturn devastated the demand for air travel in the Inland Empire and prompted carriers to move flights to LAX.
Regionalizing air traffic has become increasingly controversial amid recent decisions by Los Angeles airport officials to move the northern runway at LAX closer to homes in neighboring Westchester and Playa del Rey, where there is stiff opposition to the plan.
A report prepared late last year for Fujioka’s office asserted that Los Angeles World Airports had made only “token efforts” to comply with the settlement provisions that seek a wider distribution of commercial flights. The study noted that a series of interagency initiatives to pursue regionalization were short-lived and there was never any effort to revive them.
Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, whose district includes LAX, also plans to address the northern runway plan and the regionalization issue at a council meeting on March 22. The latest round of airport modernization projects, including the runway project, requires council approval.
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-- Dan Weikel
Photo: A Japan Airlines jet takes off behind a Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet operated by United Airlines at Los Angeles International Airport in January. Credit: David McNew / Getty Images