At the behest of Huntington Beach residents concerned about an increase in airplane traffic and noise, the City Council decided unanimously Tuesday to create a panel to examine the issues and establish talks with aviation officials.
The Air Traffic Noise Working Group will include 10 community members, Councilman Patrick Brenden, Councilwoman Barbara Delgleize, city staff members and experts.
Brenden and Delgleize, who proposed the group, intend for it to find remedies to air traffic noise, establish a working relationship with federal aviation and local airport officials, assess opportunities for lawsuits and host a community meeting.
"We're very serious about getting this completed," Delgleize said.
Residents have increasingly complained about commercial jets passing over Huntington Beach, sometimes en route to Long Beach Airport.
The FAA has implemented flight path alterations in the past year as part of its Southern California Metroplex project covering the region's airports, including Long Beach. The agency said the changes would shore up inefficiencies, save fuel and reduce carbon emissions and flight delays.
Resident James Baker said airplane issues increased after JetBlue began using Long Beach extensively years ago. He said he has called the airport's complaint hot line but seen no action.
Mike Wirthlin said he sees airliners passing above the city at low altitudes.
"I can see the numbers on these airplanes," he said. "That's how low they're flying now."
Lloyd Sargeant said the jet noise "rattles the fillings in your teeth."
"It's turning the city into a nightmare," he added.
Brenden told the council that he has seen planes fly over SeaCliff Country Club as low as 1,400 feet rather than 3,000 or 4,000 feet, which is more common.
Council members Erik Peterson and Lyn Semeta initially questioned the need for the working group, pointing to upcoming talks with the Federal Aviation Administration that were announced Friday.
Peterson noted that Newport Beach's lawsuit against the FAA over John Wayne Airport departure paths has been tentatively settled, which he said enables the FAA to begin talks with Huntington Beach.
"It's sort of repetitive of what's already set up," Peterson said of creating the group.
He suggested waiting for the outcome of the FAA talks, which will include affected residents.
But Brendan countered: "To put this off for another 30 days is not what our residents would like. They would like to have a voice in this."
Central Park cafe may get to serve beer and wine
In other action Tuesday, the council requested that the city attorney's office look into changing city code to allow Kathy May's Lakeview Cafe in Central Park to serve beer and wine.
Residents have requested having alcohol with their meals there, Brenden said.
City code currently allows alcohol for special events.
Peterson and Semeta dissented on the request. Peterson said he worried about opening the doors for alcohol in the park, especially since it harbors homeless people and other transients.
"You're just adding to the problems there," Peterson said. "I just don't want to go down this road."
Session on crime stats postponed
The council had planned to hear a presentation about crime statistics in a study session before Tuesday's meeting, but officials postponed it.
It was rescheduled for Feb. 5.