Mayor Bass Ghosts Her Constituents

 
Mayor Bass Ghosts Her Constituents.


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I can’t tell you how excited Quiet Skies for LA and concerned residents were at the idea of Karen Bass becoming mayor.  


In 2017 communities from Malibu to Santa Monica to downtown LA found themselves besieged by pollution and noise, under a one lane super highway of incoming flights. The flights were coming in from the west and the north, flying over these communities to turn around downtown and merge with the incoming flights from the east to land at LAX. Spaced apart every four minutes and flying in at 5,500 ft., it was as if we were suddenly living next to the airport.

This “genius” solution called NextGen and implemented nation wide, was designed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to manage the increased number of flights arriving at LAX. The S. California version was called Metroplex.

Needless to say communities affected across the country were up in arms. People were forced to sell their houses, couldn’t open their windows or enjoy their back yards.  People who lived in quiet communities at high elevations were especially hit hard. The FAA justified this by saying their own calculations indicated there would be “no significant impact”. A statement belied by 100's of thousands of protesting residents across the country.  (In the last few years the FAA has conducted studies to find a more legitimate definition of significant noise impacts and has acknowledged that their current requirements from Congress are inadequate. They intend to change these requirements for future projects but will not be used retroactively to correct what they have already done.)  


Culver City and West Adams organized a response, followed by the creation of Quiet Skies LA made up of members from both communities.  QS LA generated a 1,000 signature petition and over 800 comments.  This writer organized Sky Justice National Network facebook page which currently has over 500 members from across the nation.  LA residents began complaining at the LAX Roundtable, an organization the airport created to address the impact of noise and pollution on surrounding communities. City leaders began to step up, with the Council people from the affected districts jumping into the fray.  

Congresswoman Karen Bass whose community was seriously affected, stood up strong.


Statement from Congresswoman Bass -  
April 17th 2017

“The continual barrage of airplane noise and pollution at all hours is absolutely unacceptable. My office has received numerous complaints over the past years about both daytime noise from frequent, lower flights, and about nighttime noise from planes landing over homes instead of over the ocean.  I encourage constituents to actively report the noise events to LAX noise management in order to build an official record of the problems. 


In the meantime, I have directed my staff to set up a meeting between the relevant agencies and affected constituents as soon as it can be arranged.  I have also been working with my colleagues in the Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus to direct funds to address the airplane noise issues being felt across the country.  Please stay in touch with my office so I can continue to track how this is affecting our district.”

To read more  https://theneighborhoodnewsonline.net/news/community/1213-airflight-highways


She organized a townhall:
2017     

“Concerned West Adams residents who attended two West Adams for Quiet Skies meetings (previously reported on in our last two issues) showed up in force along with residents from other affected communities to a meeting organized by House Representative Karen Bass. She has been taking vigorous action here and in Washington and put together a meeting that included the who’s who of affected government officials. Even Senator Diane Watson showed up. Representative Bass gave them the opportunity to face the community, state their position and the actions they were taking to help.”

She assigned Jacqueline Hamilton to the issue. Ms. Hamilton showed up at every LAX noise roundtable, along with attending UC Davis’s annual international symposium on aircraft noise and pollution. She was an ardent advocate for affected communities. She said Ms. Bass was especially supportive of community organizers because that was how she started in politics. 

In early 2019 (without consulting the LAX noise roundtable or any of the City Council members) the City finally filed a lawsuit:

“In an effort to avoid the lawsuit, the City Attorney entered into months of fruitless negotiations with the FAA and ultimately came to the same conclusion many other cities across America fighting this ill-conceived nightmare, came to...  the FAA won't budge without a lawsuit.

The City Attorney put together a strong team that includes lawyers who represented the City of Phoenix in a successful lawsuit against the FAA. Although the Phoenix lawsuit was somewhat different, the principal arguments are similar. The City is accusing the FAA of not performing an adequate environmental review evidenced by the FAA's statement that new procedures “would not result in significant noise impacts or reportable noise increases.” Thousands and thousands of complaints from suffering residents under the new flight path clearly indicate that this is an incorrect finding. The City Attorney wants the court to deem the new paths invalid and force a proper review.  They are also taking the FAA to task and pushing back on their policy to limit public comments. Comments they are legally obligated to allow but never ever seriously consider or allow to influence their decisions."

 https://theneighborhoodnewsonline.net/news/community/1364-city-attorney-sues-faa-mayor-garcetti-supports-activists

Finally in Sept 2021 the City of LA won the lawsuit;

Statement from the City Attorney's Office  

“The Ninth Circuit issued an opinion which invalidates the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) changes to flight procedures for aircraft arriving at Los Angeles International Airport. The court agreed with the City of Los Angeles that FAA violated the National Environmental Policy Act, National Historic Preservation Act, and Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act by failing to conduct an environmental review and to consult with the City before making the flight procedure changes. The court found that FAA’s after-the-fact analysis of environmental impacts did not comply with the law and that the agency improperly applied its procedures for so-called categorical exclusions which would have allowed only minimal environmental review. The court's ruling does allow the existing FAA flight procedure to remain in place while FAA conducts a proper environmental review, which under federal law will include public comment and consultation with the City. The Ninth Circuit did not rule on the City's secondary petition to invalidate an FAA notice regarding its website, holding that it was not a final agency action upon which it could rule.”

In a nutshell the FAA was required to go back and do the required environmental impact they avoided doing when they added a new altitude requirement.  They had also avoided doing community outreach and were required to do so. I can understand why they resisted. It would be hard for them to come up with “no significant impact” after years of lawsuits and protests by citizens across the country who had been "significantly" impacted.

But now it’s 2023 and despite a great effort by the LAX roundtable and concerned residents, it’s been impossible to get any information from the LA City's attorney's office on where the lawsuit stands. Nothing has changed and we have questions.  Are the resident comments going to be considered by the court or just thrown in the wastebasket by the FAA?  Will the FAA be able to use a “no significant impact” finding despite their own acknowledgement that the previous metrics used were inadequate, or by the thousands of protests and lawsuits providing overwhelming evidence to the contrary?  What is happening?

Back to Mayor Bass.  

As I mentioned we were all excited about Ms. Bass becoming Mayor.  We knew a lot of the heavy lifting had already been done by the city but we were looking forward to having an advocate for our concerns in the Mayors seat. She had been our champion in Congress, organized meetings in LA, assigned an associate to the issue.  

So, what did she do when she became Mayor? She refused to return our calls or even meet with us.  Neither did Jacqueline Hamilton. As the kids say, they totally Ghosted us.  Nothing. Zilch, Nada.  Calls by Quiet Skies LA and the Chair of the LAX Noise Roundtable, Denny Schneider, were ignored and went unanswered.

If anybody could get updated information about the lawsuit, answer our pertinent questions, stay informed and advocate when she could, we thought she might. And even if there was nothing she thought she could do, out of respect for our efforts, after 6 years of continued engagement and constant action taken by the LA activists, a quick courtesy call or meeting to check in with us, would have sufficed. But for some reason we will probably never know. Where once she was fully engaged, Mayor Bass has lost interest.  







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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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