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Grass-Roots Efforts in Airport Participation

August 30, 1992

Your article, "LAX Offers to Pay Its Share of Regional Street Improvements" (Times, Aug. 9) accurately pointed out that both Councilwoman Ruth Galanter and airport officials deserve credit for the airport's decision to participate in the Coastal Transportation Corridor Specific Plan (CTCSP); however, so does another important constituency--the Westchester community.

A community-based, grass-roots effort led by the Westchester Improvement Committee was instrumental in gaining the airport's participation in the Specific Plan. Formed in February of this year, the committee is a group of concerned Westchester business and property owners who set out to accomplish two goals: one, to get the airport to agree to pay into the CTCSP transportation fund; and two, to win a hardship exemption for the struggling Westchester Central Business District.

The first goal--airport inclusion in the CTCSP fund--is at hand, though some critical issues remain. The first is that most of the projects to be financed by the CTCSP fund are solely required to mitigate growth in airport traffic. These should be directly underwritten by the airport, not foisted onto businesses operating in the coastal corridor. Second, since the airport can increase passenger trips to the airport without new construction, a new fee formula must be crafted based on passenger trips, not just new LAX facility development.

On the issue of a hardship exemption for the Westchester business district, we were heartened that the City Planning Commission recently responded to our concerns and asked the Department of Transportation to explore Westchester's unique characteristics that argue for such an exemption. These include a pattern of property ownership posing serious obstacles to development, legal restrictions on development of commonly held parking lots, Federal Aviation Administration building height limitations and zoning restrictions. Together, these limits on development are hurdles Westchester property owners cannot overcome if forced to also carry the burden of millions of dollars in fees required under the new CTCSP transportation ordinance.

In future news articles, it is my hope that The Times will allow deserving community groups to share the spotlight with our elected officials.

MARK RYAVEC

Westchester

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