Governor Vetoes Airport Bill Exempting County


Gov. George Deukmejian on Tuesday rejected legislation that would have exempted Los Angeles County from a law designed to control growth around the state's airports.

Under current law, county planners have until 1992 to fashion comprehensive land-use plans to ensure that commercial and residential development around Los Angeles International Airport and the county's other airports--including those in La Verne, El Monte and Burbank--are compatible with flight safety and noise control regulations.

Those supporting the bill to exempt the county from this requirement argued that such plans are unnecessary because land around most local airports already is densely developed.

But in vetoing the bill Tuesday, Deukmejian said, "Without such planning, airports and the businesses surrounding them may be forced to close as development encroaches" because the increasing population would put airports in violation of state law.

The governor's action is the latest twist in a controversy that surfaced in 1989 after Deukmejian signed a bill to put teeth into a 20-year-old requirement for land-use planning around airports statewide. That measure prompted an outcry from a number of Los Angeles County cities complaining that their planning authority around airports would be usurped by the county.

The exemption proposal was introduced by Sen. Robert G. Beverly (R-Manhattan Beach), who earlier this year successfully shepherded legislation that gives Los Angeles County an extra six months to comply with the law. But in vetoing Beverly's follow-up bill, Deukmejian said he would not allow the law to be eased any more.

Clancy Leland--a lobbyist for Los Angeles County, which pushed for passage of the exemption measure--said he was unsure if the proposal will be revived next year.

Leland complained that the current law is "so vague, so general, it doesn't tell you what you are supposed to do."

Other critics of the current law have argued that Los Angeles County's Regional Planning Commission, designated by state law as the airport planning agency, does not have the staff to handle the workload involved in planning around airports.

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