Long Beach City Council reviews noise ordinance

After conducting a two-hour study session on the Long Beach Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance on Feb. 17, Long Beach City Council expressed concerns about modifying the guidelines of the 20-year-old policy.

According to the official website of the Long Beach website, the ordinance originally aimed to create a balance between air commerce and noise exposure.

Under the ordinance, 41 commercial flights and 25 commuter flights are allowed per day. Potential expansion of the Long Beach Airport to accommodate international flights could possibly threaten the noise ordinance, according to Councilman Al Austin who called for the study session.

“I have a number of questions and concerns about the impact such a facility would have on the quality of life in the neighborhoods,” Austin said. “These impacts must be fully and publicly vetted before taking any action.”

JetBlue Airways Corp., one of Long Beach Airport’s primary airlines since 2001, made a formal request to the Long Beach Airport on Monday in a letter delivered by JetBlue Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Robert Land.

“Following the City Council Study Session held recently on the Airport Noise Ordinance… JetBlue requests the city seek the presence of U.S. Customs for purposes of processing aircraft under the Customs User Fee Airport program,” Land stated in the letter.

City Council sets policy for the airport. Council members said they do not intend to revise the noise ordinance anytime soon, according to Bryant Francis, the new Long Beach Airport director.

“There is no plan or consideration concerning any change to the noise ordinance whatsoever,” Francis said. “The decision of whether to develop a Federal Inspection Service facility [for international flights] at the Long Beach Airport would be made by the City Council.”

Assistant City Attorney Michael Mais, who conducted the noise ordinance lesson, said no matter where flights travel, the noise ordinance prevails. “Wherever JetBlue chooses to fly, they are still limited to the 41 flights slots we have to allocate, and the current established curfew hours for flights,” Mais said.

Mayor Robert Garcia reassured Long Beach residents that the noise ordinance is a high priority for the City Council. “I am committed to ensuring a thorough and transparent process to evaluate any proposed new facilities at the airport,” Garcia said. “The economic viability of our airport is important, but protecting our noise ordinance is a paramount concern.”

Land stated in the letter that JetBlue has been a “model corporate citizen” and a strong supporter of the Noise Ordinance since the Long Beach Airport’s first flight about 14 years ago.

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