COUNTYWIDE : Airport Noise Hearing Is Today

Citizens and officials from Orange and Los Angeles counties will seek to modify new federal airport noise restrictions during a congressional subcommittee hearing today in Newport Beach.

Reps. Barbara Boxer, (D-San Rafael), who chairs a House subcommittee on government operations, and Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach) will take public testimony regarding the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990.

The law has prompted concerns from community groups across the country that the federal legislation would weaken local efforts to regulate airport noise.

Officials from John Wayne Airport, Caltrans and the Los Angeles Department of Airports and members of local citizens groups are among those scheduled to address the panel. The hearing will begin at 9:30 a.m. at Newport Harbor High School.

Boxer's subcommittee has jurisdiction over a federal agency responsible for implementing the new noise restrictions and will take public comments into consideration when finalizing the law.

Among other things, the preliminary rules now require airlines to replace older, noisier aircraft with quieter models by the year 2000.

At the hearing, city and county officials from Orange County said they will highlight the community's role in regulating noise from jets flying in and out of John Wayne Airport.

"From our point of view, we want to make sure the rules that are adopted do not inhibit us from hopefully finding another airport someday to supplement John Wayne," said Newport Beach City Councilman Clarence J. Turner.

Turner serves as president of a citizens group that opposed the airport's $150-million expansion that allowed the county to increase the number of passengers from 3.5 million to 8.4 million a year.

The councilman said that he and others want to make sure the county airport keeps its exemption from the new federal regulations. Newport Beach is one of few cities with airports that are not affected by the new law, which, Cox said, is "designed to supersede local government regulation across America."

Despite the exemption, Airport Manager Jan Mittermeier plans to oppose the new rules, which "do not reflect the intent of Congress," said Courtney Wiercioch, chief of government relations at John Wayne.

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