Residents belonging to two groups opposing expansion of John Wayne
Airport will get vocal at two meetings Wednesday, but they're
admittedly short on solutions for the passenger increases brought on
by the region's population growth.
Speak Up Newport, a nonprofit public education group, will feature
speaker Tom Naughton, president of the Airport Working Group, at its
monthly meeting. The Airport Working Group was a party to the city of
Newport Beach's settlement agreement that dictates how many
passengers the airport is allowed to have annually.
The agreement was renegotiated in 2003 to raise the passenger cap
to 10.3 million through 2011, after which it goes up to 10.8 million
passengers a year until 2015. Residents and city officials have
fought for restrictions on airport traffic to protect their
neighborhoods from noise.
Also on Wednesday, a group formed in 2002 called AirFair will give
its first public presentation on airport issues at a reception for
Costa Mesa City Council candidate Katrina Foley.
AirFair's goal is to make sure the 10.8-million passenger cap is
never increased, Chairwoman Melinda Seely said. She and other
residents chose to form their own group because the Airport Working
Group has continued to pursue an airport at the closed El Toro Marine
Air Base near Irvine, an option Orange County voters vetoed in 2002
when they approved rezoning the land as a park.
"We felt that that is a dead issue, and what we need to do is
protect ourselves, our property values and our lifestyle from any
more expansion of John Wayne Airport," Seely said.
Because of changing flight paths, more neighborhoods in Newport
Beach and Costa Mesa are suffering "airport discomfort," so AirFair
has enlisted support from homeowners' associations and in the future
might reach out to residents in other cities such as Orange and
Tustin, Seely said.
Naughton said he will discuss a 2004 regional-transportation plan
put together by local governments and how the region's growth will
mean more airplane passengers, but he said he's not sure what to do
"I don't have a solution, quite frankly," Naughton said. "I'd like
to present the problem to the people and let them come up with what
they think is the solution."
Seely said she doesn't have an answer to airport growth pressure
either, but the problem is one that elected officials, not residents,
should be working on.
"We're not trying to solve it," she said. "We're just trying to
say there are enough people concerned about the problem that the
officials in charge need to sit up and take notice."
There's no reason for people to worry about airport traffic right
now, Orange County Supervisor Tom Wilson said. The county owns the
John Wayne Airport has always had passenger caps and it's never
reached them, Wilson said.
"The ink's probably not even dry on the [settlement] agreement, so
I don't think anybody should be worried about that for at least 10
years," he said.
The AirFair meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the
home of Liz Parker, 307 Colleen Place, Costa Mesa. For information,
Speak Up Newport's monthly meeting is set for 6 p.m., with a
reception beginning at 5 p.m., Wednesday at the Newport Beach Yacht
Club, 1099 Bayside Drive, Newport Beach.
* ALICIA ROBINSON covers business, politics and the environment.
She may be reached at (949) 764-4330 or by e-mail at