Commentary: What is 'a little growth' at JWA?

Recent stories regarding the extension of the John Wayne Airport settlement agreement report that, in the words of our city manager, Dave Kiff, we will have to allow for "a little growth" ("Newport Beach is on the right path, Kiff says," March 8).

Mayor Keith Curry reports that we will be "very proud" of the agreement, which he said "will continue the protection of our community" ("JWA pact could be days away," March 15).

Maybe we can accept "a little growth" over existing levels, but we cannot accept substantial growth or the complete elimination of any one of the crucial terms. What are those? As a result of the 2003 extension of the settlement agreement, the parties agreed on the following:

1.) The current curfew, which expires in 2020;

2.) The average daily departures (ADDs), which currently caps the noisy Class A jets at 85 per day;

3.) The million annual passenger ("MAP") cap, which is currently 10.8;

4.) The restrictions on the facilities, which currently limit JWA to 20 loading bridges.

All of these eroded the earlier protections in the original 1985 settlement agreement, which contemplated limited facilities growth at JWA, including limitations on the terminal and parking, 8.84 MAP, and ADDs of 73 beginning in 1990.

What are the current existing numbers? As of 2012, the existing MAP was 8.86 and the ADDs for Class A was 74.91 jets.

So "a little growth" would not increase the MAP at all? Going from 8.86 MAP to 10.8 MAP is a 21% increase. Perhaps we could allow for a 10% increase over the existing for a 25% increase (which seems greater than "a little growth") to 11 MAP.

As for ADDs, the current agreement allows for 85 ADDs. By comparison, existing levels are down about 11%. So, an 11% increase over existing levels would be fine, which is what JWA currently can do.

What about "a little growth" over these current allowed levels? OK, how about an additional 10%, which is 21% over existing levels? To me, that seems like more than "a little growth," but what the heck. Twenty-one percent over current levels results in an increase of 15 ADDs, or 90 ADDs total.

As for the loading bridges, this is the only restriction on the physical facilities of JWA. We have already given away earlier restrictions on terminal size and parking restrictions. So it is important that this remains in place. A "little growth?" OK, maybe two more loading bridges, which results in 22 loading bridges. (Again, this 10% increase seems like more than "a little growth.")

Let's see how real this "a little growth" approach is, and how "proud" we are of the tentative results of these lengthy settlement negotiations. Good luck to us all.

Attorney ROBERT C. HAWKINS is a former Newport Beach planning commissioner.

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