Commentary: Credit community groups with JWA cap

John Wayne Airport is a blessing and a curse all at the same time.

With regard to the blessing, we congratulate the county on a well-run airport, which many of us use on a regular basis.

With regard to the curse, its flights, flight path, traffic and pollution affecting Newport Beach and all of the "corridor cities" have cost millions of dollars and degradation of neighborhoods since 1968, when the first jets arrived at JWA.

But thanks to many actively concerned residents and city councils, we have what is described as the premier agreement as to protection of residents under a flight path – the 1985 JWA settlement agreement between the city of Newport Beach, SPON (Stop Polluting Our Newport), AWG (Airport Working Group) and the county.

We are grateful to SPON, AWG, Newport Beach and other cities for their steadfast work to keep the settlement agreement in place and give us some certainty about what to expect in the future. And, very importantly, keep the current curfew in place at least until 2035.

So with all of these congratulations on the table, what is AirFair's response?

After the 2003 agreement extension, which allowed a very large terminal expansion and increased the number of passengers per year to 10.8 million, it occurred to many of us that we are doing more than our "fair share" in acceptance of neighborhood noise and pollution from a regional airport. And so we adopted "10.8 and shut the gate" as our slogan to mean that 10.8 annual passengers is certainly our fair share — thus AirFair.

The current proposed settlement agreement extension keeps the 10.8 million annual passengers cap in place until 2020. After that, a new agreement would allow an incremental increase in passengers until the year 2030.

It remains the AirFair position that 10.8 million annual passengers is our "fair share." We all need to continue to work together toward a future where JWA does not degrade the underlying neighborhoods. Ontario airport picks up its fair share and the technological remedies for noise and pollution continue to increase.

AirFair has been a valuable contributor to the settlement negotiation process and will continue to work on regulating and mitigating the impact of JWA on our citizens.

MELINDA SEELY is a member of the AirFair Board of Directors. She lives in Newport Beach.

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