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Hold the line at John Wayne

August 04, 2005|By: Tom Harman

Most people in our coastal communities know me as a member of the

California state Assembly. Before going to Sacramento, I served on

the Huntington Beach City Council for six years. During my years of

public service, I have focused on trying to help resolve issues that

are primarily local in nature.

However, as a resident of Orange County, I recognize that many of

the issues that concern the people in the county today are regional

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issues. In Orange County, we have numerous issues that cry out for

some sort of regional solution. Transportation, environmental and

economic issues come to mind as types of issues that often require

regional solutions.

Presently, one regional issue that is of particular concern to

Orange County residents involves anticipated efforts to expand the

flight operations of John Wayne Airport. Currently there is an

agreement in place through 2011 that restricts the total number of

passengers that can use the airport on an annual basis to 10.3

million. This cap on passenger traffic is raised after 2011 to 10.8

million annual passengers through 2015, when the current agreement

will expire. In just 10 short years John Wayne will be subject to

massive increases in passenger traffic. Actually, such an increase

could happen sooner if the parties to the agreement decide to amend

it prior to that date.

Airport officials have predicted that as early as next year, the

2011 cap of 10.3 million passengers per year will be met. What

happens then? The obvious answer is that there will be attempts to

keep raising the cap to higher and higher levels. At what point does

increased growth at John Wayne cease to become progress and instead

begin to degrade the overall quality of life in the region? At what

point does increased passenger traffic guarantee more pollution,

congestion and noise than nearby residents should be asked to put up

with on a permanent basis? I think we're rapidly reaching that point.

As much as I sympathize with business concerns that have an

interest in expanding our airport operations at John Wayne, and as

much as I acknowledge that the residential growth in south Orange

County demands to be served by airline service, I strongly believe we

must hold the line on the number of annual passengers using John

Wayne to the current limits. We also must maintain the current

curfews contained in the agreement.

It is not just the residents of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach who

are affected by any expansion at John Wayne. A ripple effect spreads

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