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STATEMENT OF WALTER V. COLLINS, DIRECTOR OF THE LOS ANGELES
SOUND ABATEMENT COORDINATING COMMITTEE
First, I would like to express my appreciation to the Members of the Committee for allowing me to submit my statement for consideration at this hearing. I intend to orient my remarks primarily to the need of land use planning policies as part of a system's approach to lessen the environmental impact of jet aircraft noise on surrounding communities adjacent to large commercial airports.
I am going to presume that those that have preceded me, or those that will follow me in their testimony to this committee, will express their views and make comments regarding proper legislation that would identify the state agency to set forth criteria for proper land use planning around airports. I will also assume that those individuals will have a better background than I to suggest the basis for establishing such legislation that would better able the present Land Use Commission to be more effective in establishing appropriate criteria and parameters to be considered in the Commission's decision proc
Hopefully, my testimony will reinforce the need for proper land use planning around airports.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The impact of jet aircraft noise upon airport communities has been a growing problem during the past decade and will continue to be a problem during the foreseeable future. The problem developed due to the commensurate growth of airport communities with air transportation.
The Committee, of which I am the Director, is comprised of members from the tenant airlines operating jet aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Air Transport Association, the Air Line Pilots Association, and the Los Angeles Department of Airports.
I would like to mention some of the programs that our Committee has conducted to acquaint you with our Committee's work.
1. Established traffic patterns that insure the highest altitude while overflying populated areas and pictorial presentation of such patterns are included in all pilot manuals.
2. Raised the ILS glide slope from 2.75 to 3 degrees.
3. Developed a suppressor shield for night maintenance turn ups at a cost of approximately $200,000. Extensive tests proved that the shield was not operationally acceptable.
4. Conducted residential and school soundproofing pilot studies at a cost short of 2 million dollars.
5. Modified departure tracts to remain over water as long as possible and to insure recrossing coastal areas at high altitudes during low traffic periods. 6. Flight Technical Subcommittee encouraged reinvestigation of both takeoff and approach sound abatement procedures that are now ongoing.
One airline on our Committee, PSA, is now conducting two-segment visual approaches throughout their system. United Air Lines, also a member of our committee, under a NASA contract is now testing instrumentation and techniques that will enable pilots to make high approaches to airports under both visual and instrument weather conditions.
In addition, the Department of Airports has had a program of land acquisition to enable those residents close to the airport to sell their homes.
7. A noise monitoring system has been installed. On December 20, 1972, the Los Angeles Department of Airports Board of Commissioners passed additional flight constraints, that reads:
1. A runway preferential use program with a proposed starting date of April 29, 1973, the date for airline schedule changes. This will regulate all aircraft traffic between the hours of 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. to over-ocean approaches and departures. The over-ocean system has been under evaluation since September 1972 and can now be implemented with the installation of an instrument landing system on Runway 6R. I have been assured by the FAA that this installation will be completed by the effective date of the program.
Overwater operations can be used approximately 90 percent of the time. For
the remaining 10 percent, when weather and wind conditions do not permit, only FAR 36 aircraft will be allowed to land from or takeoff to the east between the hours of 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Under these conditions, all non-FAR airplanes will be denied the use of Los Angeles International.
Instructions will be issued to the FAA designating the north and south inboard runways as preferential for takeoffs under this nighttime system.
We propose that a penalty for repeated violation of the preferential runway useage will result in the cancellation of an airline's operating permit and the right to use Los Angeles International.
2. A program of economic incentives to accelerate the use of quiet aircraft. Labeled "dollars for decibels", the program is to be implemented on July 1, 1973. This proposes to set landing fees ranging from the lowest fees for operators of FAR 36 aircraft to the highest fees for operators of the noisiest aircraft. The incentive landing fee program will tie in with phase three.
3. A fleet noise rule to establish a 100 percent FAR 36 aircraft fleet by December 31, 1979. This is a long-range program by which the noisier aircraft are phased out of the airline fleet. It will be evaluated on the basis of actual operations at Los Angeles International and designed to be 40 percent complete by July 1, 1977, and 100 percent in compliance with FAR 36 by the end of 1979. The fleet noise rule will stand at Los Angeles International unless a more stringent rule is adopted by the federal government.
4. Creation of a noise enforcement division within the Department of Airports. As a tool to insure compliance, the noise monitoring computer will be programmed to accurately measure FAR 36 noise parameters.
5. Even though this program is designed to insure quieter aircraft, management further urges the adoption of appropriate legislation to achieve a stronger method for developing compatible land use in the various communities around our airport.
Our local situation at Los Angeles Airport is not unlike that of other large commerical airports throughout the world.
Airports are generators of economic development as commercial air transportation is the cutting edge of that economic development.
It so happens, unfortunately, that city planners did not provide for the orderly compatible development of the land around airports and if you listened to complaints as long as I have, you would wonder where in the L.A. Basin would a planning department plan residential development relative to aircraft noise of they could start all over again?
If you consider Palos Verdes and Beverly Hills/Pacific Palisades areas, the span of our complaints, it is obvious that the only true answer to the aircraft noise problem is quieting the source of the noise. It is obvious also that this goal will not be totally achieved through technology while waiting for economic development to allow for total compatible land use around existing airports.
In my six years in this job, I have yet to be advised by the surrounding municipalities that a zone change was made within their city relative to aircraft noise to create compatible land use. I have witnessed, however, residential development close adjacent to this airport in this same time span.
The airport, however, has expended 501⁄2 million dollars in negotiated residential purchases to allow people to remove themselves from a trying situation. Due to simple economics, this opportunity is limited.
This effort is not desirable by the community, the airport, or the airlines, but it is a program that the aforementioned parties can exercise as an interim measure.
Incidentally, the Los Angeles Department of Airports is the only airport, to my knowledge, that has expended their financial resources to this degree for establishing a buffer zone.
When negotiations are concluded to purchase a house, the resident is paid in addition to a fair market value for their property.
1. Relocation Advice an Assistance by the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles.
2. Actual Moving Expenses within an area not to exceed 50 miles and if beyond this area, moving expenses not to exceed $500.00.
3. Replacement Housing Supplement not to exceed $15,000.
4. Interest Equalization Benefit. This is to provide the additional costs of the loan between the old mortgage interest and the new mortgage interest of their replacement house. This is not to exceed $15,000. (3 and 4 may be taken separately or combined, but not to exceed a total of $15,000)
5. Rental Supplement Payment. In the case of a renter of a house that has been purchased by the Department of Airports, this supplement is given to the renter should he rent another residence or apartment or it may be used by the renter for a down payment on a house should he decide to purchase. This is not to exceed $4,000.
6. The owner of property does not pay title fees, escrow fees, prepayment penalties on the existing loan or brokerage fees.
As you all know, there are limitations set by nature itself on the use of land for particular human activities. Limitations imposed by topography, weather, climate and water. There are also limitations dictated by human ecology and economics which some misguided ecological Neanderthals try to control.
To me, zoning of land in a city is much more than the removal of obnoxious gases, noise and unsightly uses. Underlying the entire concept of zoning should be the assumption that zoning can be a vital tool for maintaining a civilized form of existence only if we employ the insight and the learning of all disciplines concerned with urban problems. Zoning must originate with a well considered comprehensive plan and zoning should reflect that plan. The philosophy behind the requirements of zoning is that consideration must be given to the community as a whole following a common deliberate consideration of the alternatives, and not because of the whims of either an articulate minority or even majority in the 'community. The comprehensive plan is the essence of zoning. Without it, there can be no rational allocation of land use. Comprehensive city planning is the insurance that the public welfare is being served and that zoning does not become anything more than just a Gallup poll.
Now that I have given you some of the local color that applies to this airport and probably could fit on the canvas to paint the situation at most every major airport, let me orient my remaining remarks more somewhat to the air carrier industry itself.
Technological effort during the last four decades in the field of air transportation has been concentrated on bettering what the aviation industry does for people. Each decade has produced outstanding technological improvements which have brought higher speeds, lower costs per passenger mile, lower costs per cargo ton mile, more comfort for passengers and crew, longer flight ranges-the list of accomplishments is long. As we enter our new decade, however, we must face the issue of what the aviation industry does to people if we are to achieve the traffic growth and industrial strength which our technological capabilities can provide. It is the negative aspect of what the aviation industry does to people that needs attention and one word sums up the problem-NOISE.
The 1960's witnessed the depletion of the immense store of goodwill and public support that had been the legacy of an industry that fulfilled man's dreams as well as his transportation needs. Aircraft noise has eroded community support of aviation to such a degree that it has come to be looked upon as a mixed and dubious blessing.
The aforementioned advancements in what the industry has accomplished for people have effectively benefited almost every person living on the North American Continent. Of course, only a minority of these people has actually flown and this erroneously leads to the popular conclusion that aviation is of benefit to a select few. When all services including air mail and air cargo are considered, however, it is clear that the benefits of air transportation reach a vast majority of the people. Further, it is clear that any constraints to the free flow of air commerce can be seriously detrimental to the economic welfare of an affected community.
As an example, people all around the world are avoiding New York City because of air traffic congestion-and air traffic is congested because of aircraft noise. The ten-year search for additional airport capacity to serve the Metropolitan New York area has been thwarted largely because of noise. With more or less significance with respect to economic penalties to the community itself, programs for increasing the airport capacities, by enlarging present airports or establishing additional airports for most of the major commercial centers of the world, are being handicapped and thwarted because of noise.
Anyone who is closely associated with airport operation or airport planning recognizes that the community relationship problem, which is now the controlling factor in practically all major airport expansion and new airport location projects, is growing worse and worse and worse. There is no known basis for any belief that the situation can be greatly improved upon without drastic advances in both quieting the aircraft, in conjunction with compatible land use planning around airports. Theoretically, we could help the problem were airports located sufficiently remote from populated areas with good long-term protection through effective zoning with compatible land use planning. I say theoretically, because it is clear that a majority of our airports are adjacent to heavily populated areas, and these airports must continue to represent keystones in our air transportation system. It can be proven in many instances that the airport was there before the people.
The milk has already spilled at most of our major airports. The neighbors are there now and all we in the industry can do is to alleviate the noise nuisance as much as we can by procedural constraints.
Several fundamentals must be faced in understanding the urgent need for quieter aircraft and land use planning around airports.
1. Most airports cannot be relocated to less populated areas and still serve the traveling public and industry with effective and efficient access.
2. The increased emphasis upon environmental improvements plus noise reduction, can be expected to grow.
3. Population growth will continue to thwart any attempts to isolate airports by locating them in sparsely settled areas unless vast land areas are purchased by the airports.
4. Aircraft noise problems are not limited to those areas of the immediate vicinity of airports.
In emphasizing the fourth point, the ecological movement is all inclusive which encompasses all sources of noise, motorcycles, buses, trucks, lawn mowers, household appliances, in addition to jet aircraft. Elected officials are responsive to pressure groups even though some pressure groups represent a minority view. The people movement is here and from most reports you read we can all wonder whether or not anything major can ever be accomplished. Air transportation is a target; in many instances, it is made the patsy for other shortcomings of a city and some self-appointed civic leaders, with little or no compunction, will paint the industry as one who is conducting a clandestine operation analogous to a massage parlor, unconcerned about the communities it serves.
I would, at this time, like to point out on the chart what has recently been proposed in the land development adjacent to the Los Angeles International Airport. Your committee is meeting here today, no doubt, with more than a mere suspicion that proper land use planning around airports is essential to the continuing life of air transportation. Yet, still at this late date, and in view of all history, residential development close to the Los Angeles International Airport is still taking place.
1. Westport Beach Club (red area No. 1). The Westport Beach Club has had a suit against the Department of Airports for jet aircraft noise claiming inverse condemnation. Currently, the Planning Committee of the Los Angeles City Council has agreed to allow a proposed 160 condominium development on the Club property. The Beach Club property is reported to have been purchased by Levitt-United Multihousing Corporation.
2. Presbyterian Church (red area No. 2). It has been recently reported that the Presbyterian Church, identified as No. 2 on the chart, intends to have its property rezoned for multiple residential development. Some months ago, the Department of Airports paid, I believe, $50,000 for an air easement over the property.
3. North of Nike Site (red area No. 3). The property identified as No. 3 contains 17 acres. The owner is requesting an R-4 zone change which would allow between 80 and 100 units per acre. It was scaled down by the Los Angeles City Planning Commission to R-3 zone which would allow 30 to 50 units per
4. Multiple Apartment Development (green area No. 4). The areas identified in green on the chart all contain multiple apartment developments that were built as recently as two years ago and still ongoing.
5. Airport Junior High School (red area No. 5). The red patch area east of
the airport in Westchester identifies the Airport Junior High School complex that was closed about two years ago because of aircraft noise. The school was built in 1955. I would like to submit into the records of this committee the Los Angeles Department of Airports Board of Airport Commissioners' resolution #669 passed at their meeting held on February 4, 1953, requesting that appropriate governmental agencies, including surrounding school districts and State Department of Education refrain from the construction of school facilities or places of public assembly in or near airport approach zones, in that such locations for such facilities would constitute an intolerable and unnecessary hazard both to the occupants of the buildings and to the aircraft using the airport. It is also stated in this resolution that such places of public assembly as churches and hospitals would be unwise because of aircraft noise levels. You will note that this resolution was passed six years prior to the landings of the first jet aircraft at Los Angeles International Airport.
6. El Segundo Apartment Complex (green area No. 6). Three years ago in the city of El Segundo, as close as you can get to the airport, a multi-apartment complex was built.
7. Los Angeles Apartment Complex (green area No. 7). A single apartment complex was leveled by a developer and in its place a multiple apartment building was built in 1969.
In closing, I would also like to bring to your attention a report from the Inglewood City Hall, dated May, 1972, which features an article entitled, "Can We Sue the Airport for Noise Damage?" Also included in the issue is an article expressing the concern of the Members of Inglewood City Council as to whether or not jet noise hurts property values and their efforts to raise funds in the city's budget to conduct such a comparative study. However, in that same issue, I would like to read another news item and I quote: "At the end of 1970, building permits had galloped to a record high. The upward trend continues. The first four months of 1971 saw twelve million dollars in building permits issued-almost twice as many as for the same period in 1970. The biggest action is in new apartment construction."
Thank you, and thank you again, gentlemen, for allowing me to address your committee.
[From the Westchester News Advertiser, Sept. 22, 1972]
BEACH DEVELOPER SHAVES HIGH RISE-OKAY GIVEN 160 CONDOMINIUMS
Environmentalists won out Tuesday over a proposed high rise development on the Westport Beach Club property in Playa del Rey.
The Planning Committee of the Los Angeles City Council agreed to rollback zoning from R-5 which would have allowed building with unlimited height restrictions to R-3 and limit height and allow a proposed 160 condominium development on the club property.
The rollback was initiated almost a year ago by Councilwoman Pat Russell, sixth district, because of a proposed high-rise development which she said would be injurious to the Playa del Rey area.
Had the zoning on the property remained at R-5, a total of 800 units could have been built. A rollback to R-3 will limit development to 200 units.
Councilwoman Russell last year listed three reasons for her opposition to R5 zoning on the beach club property which has been purchased by LevittUnited Multihousing Corporation. She said Tuesday, however, that the problems of density, height and ingress and egress had been solved "mostly" in a proposal by Levitt to erect the condominiums on the site.
Levitt's plan calls for the units to be erected at staggered heights and of two-story character. Jim Roseberg, representative for Levitt, said that the development will meet R-3 standards except in one spot where the building is about 10 feet over the R-3 height restrictions. For that reason the firm asked that a conditional "Q" zoning designation for R-4 be placed on the property. Councilwoman Russell and members of the committee indicated they would approve such a zoning. "It is important that the right conditions be placed on the zoning," Councilwoman Russell said.
Main access to the condomiunium development will be provided through two private streets to be built on the site. Both the access roads will lead onto Vista del Mar and will be for the use of owners only. Major opposition in the past was to overloading Trolley Way and Surf Street, two roadways already experiencing congestion difficulties.