Garcetti puts stamp on Airport Commission with six new members
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Tuesday overhauled the city’s Airport Commission, replacing every member except Valeria Velasco, an attorney from Playa del Rey and former community activist.
Appointed to the seven-member panel were Jackie Goldberg, a former Los Angeles City Council member and state assemblywoman; Cynthia Telles, a local civic leader and former vice president of the city’s Ethics Commission; and Sean Burton, a former Warner Bros. executive, real estate developer and attorney.
Also selected were Matthew Johnson, a civic leader and entertainment lawyer; Bea Hsu, a real estate developer and former advisor to California State Controller Kathleen Connell; and Gabriel Eshaghian, a real estate investment executive who has worked in the travel and airline industry.
Garcetti reappointed Velasco, a civic leader, former city planning commissioner and an airport activist who helped organization opposition to the LAX master plan of Mayor James Hahn.
“L.A.'s airports are a critical economic engine and our city’s first impression for millions of visitors every year,” Garcetti said. “I’m pleased to appoint these talented Angelenos to the Airport Commission and know they will focus on ensuring L.A. has world-class airports that are also first-class neighbors.”
The appointments send a strong message to Gina Marie Lindsey, the executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, about the direction Garcetti could set for the city’s airport system, which includes Los Angeles International Airport, LA/Ontario International Airport and Van Nuys Airport.
During the election, Garcetti said he supported the modernization of LAX, but opposed Lindsey’s plan to move the northernmost runway 260 feet closer to neighborhoods in Westchester and Playa del Rey, where there was strong political opposition due to concerns about air pollution and noise.
Although the runway project was approved by the previous Airport Commission, Garcetti said Tuesday, “I don’t think we should be moving it.”
Garcetti also said he supported transferring control of Ontario International to Inland Empire officials as long as Los Angeles got revenue from it and the plan bolstered the struggling airport’s passenger levels.
Under the administration of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles World Airports and the Airport Commission pushed for the controversial runway project on the grounds that it would improve safety and efficiency the LAX.
Airport officials also entered into negotiations sell to Ontario, but those talks fell apart when both sides could not agree on the price, which Los Angeles set at $475 million. After talks broke off, Inland Empire officials sued.
The new members replace commission President Michael Lawson, Joseph Aredas, Fernando Torres-Gil, Ann W. Hollister, Raul Perez and Robert Byer. Hollister, Perez and Byer were recent Villaraigosa appointees.
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