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Accord Reached on LAX Plan

Hahn and Miscikowski's compromise would postpone centerpiece of the mayor's blueprint. Airport board will vote on proposals Monday.

June 12, 2004|Jennifer Oldham and Noam N. Levey | Times Staff Writers

Mayor James K. Hahn and Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski reached agreement Friday on what they called a "consensus plan" for Los Angeles International Airport and urged airport and planning commissioners to approve the significantly smaller modernization proposal.

The compromise postpones approval of the controversial centerpiece of Hahn's plan, which would ban private vehicles from the airport's horseshoe-shaped roadway and reroute them to a remote check-in center near the San Diego Freeway. The delay in considering the check-in center could eventually lead to its being scrapped.

The agreement was a dramatic turnaround in the 15-year debate over how to fix LAX. Just a month ago, the Miscikowski and Hahn plans were presented to airport and planning commissioners as separate approaches.

Hahn, Miscikowski and their staffs were "fast and furiously negotiating" complicated details of the compromise this week to get the proposal to commissioners before their meeting on Monday.

"We're very pleased that we've been able to come to this agreement," said Lisa Gritzner, Miscikowski's chief of staff and a point person in the negotiations. "It makes the debate and actions of the boards of airport and planning commissioners more clear for everyone, and everyone will understand the direction we're going in."

Hahn also has praised the deal.

"We're at a point that we can move forward," Hahn said. "I'm glad that we've built the consensus to do that."

Commissioners will vote on Hahn's $9-billion proposal during a seven-hour hearing beginning at 3 p.m. Monday at the Los Angeles Convention Center. They will also consider Miscikowski's implementation plan, which moves the most controversial projects in the mayor's proposal to a second phase that would require more analysis.

Until recently, Hahn had fiercely defended the passenger check-in facility as essential to fulfill a promise he made to make LAX more secure after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

But Hahn gave in to demands from airlines, residents and business leaders that he postpone construction of the passenger terminal in Manchester Square after it became clear earlier this year that the City Council would not approve it.

To revise his plan, Hahn turned to a proposal crafted by Miscikowski over the last three months that would leave the existing airport largely intact for now.

Her plan splits projects into two categories, termed "green light" and "yellow light." The green-light projects include a consolidated rental-car facility, a transit hub and an elevated tram. Yellow-light elements include the remote check-in center and the demolition of Terminals 1, 2 and 3 on the airport's north side.

As part of their agreement, Miscikowski and Hahn suggest planning and airport commissioners approve Hahn's proposal and use a document known as a "specific plan," drafted by Miscikowski, to control which projects are built and when.

The City Council is scheduled to consider the proposals later this year.

Although Miscikowski's plan includes projects that airlines and business groups favor, representatives from those groups are concerned that the specific-plan process could be circumvented if future city councils chose to amend it.

"What we're trying to understand better is the specific-plan approach and the mechanics of how it works," said Kelley Brown, an aviation consultant who represents airlines at LAX. "We still want to get that comfort level that it does what she intends it to do, which is control the yellow-light projects."

Miscikowski has argued that the specific plan is a city law that is difficult to change. She has also emphasized that she is open to revising her plan.

"This isn't over," the councilwoman said Friday. "It's really just the beginning."

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