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Council Members Attempt to Cut Speed of LAX Work

Seven on panel oppose soliciting design plans before Mayor Hahn's modernization proposal is reviewed by the city and the FAA.

September 06, 2003|Jennifer Oldham | Times Staff Writer

Members of the City Council moved on Friday to block the Airport Commission's fast-track approach to modernizing Los Angeles International Airport, insisting that design work wait until after the plan has been approved.

The Airport Commission voted earlier in the week to solicit design proposals on elements of Mayor James K. Hahn's $9-billion LAX modernization plan, at a cost of $1 million to $2 million a month, even before the plan is reviewed by the City Council and the Federal Aviation Administration. The panel expected to hire a firm this fall.

Council members said Friday that it would be premature to spend money on design work without a guarantee that the plan would be approved.

"A fast-track effort is appropriate and more widely used in non-controversial issues that require little public input and relatively little detailed technical review," wrote Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski in a motion signed by six of her colleagues. "It is also a tool when overwhelming consensus exists on a proposal, which is clearly not the case on this issue."

Hahn is trying to convince skeptics, including the airlines, residents and lawmakers, that his plan is the best way to modernize the 75-year-old airport. Miscikowski's motion, which the council will discuss on Friday, calls on the commission to delay preliminary design work until a project is in place.

The mayor's office asked the council to reconsider its position and said that adding more details to Hahn's plan would help answer questions posed by skeptics.

"The federal government agrees with the mayor that we want to see safety and security enhancements made at LAX as soon as possible," said Deputy Mayor Julie Wong. "That's why they put LAX as one of a handful of projects they're paying special attention to. We want to make sure on our end that we're fully prepared to implement the master plan when it's passed, which is why we would like to see advanced planning."

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