Council ties LAX project to sustainability, worker issues

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Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — A series of motions from Councilman Mike Bonin aimed at having Los Angeles World Airports use its pending $6 billion Airfield Terminal Modernization Project as an opportunity to advance sustainability, airport access and worker protections has been approved by the Los Angeles City Council.

LAX modernization will assure we get a world-class airport,” said Bonin, after introducing the motions last month. “But it is equally important that we get an airport that is a first-class neighbor and a first-rate employer. 

“We have a tremendous opportunity to make sure the improvements at LAX benefit travelers, people who live near the airport and the employees who make the airport function every day.”

The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners voted to recommend the project’s plans to the City Council. Airport officials say it will reduce traffic on public streets and improve customer experience.

Construction is expected to create more than 5,000 jobs, and permanent jobs also will be added through the addition of new concession areas. The airport also claims that reconfiguring its taxiways and runway exits will lead to less aircraft idling and a decrease in air pollution.

The package of motions by Bonin, who represents neighborhoods surrounding LAX, seeks to use the Airfield Terminal Modernization Project to benefit the airport’s employees and surrounding communities, according to the councilman.

The first motion, which was co-introduced with Councilman Paul Krekorian, seeks a plan to achieve carbon-neutral facilities at the airport by 2035. The motion ordered a report from LAWA within 120 days on:

Power generation opportunities on land owned by LAWA, including at LAX, the Van Nuys Airport and in Palmdale.

• Sustainable aviation fuel adoption recommendations, including regarding needed regulatory reforms statewide and nationally.

• The percentage of ground-based vehicles operated at LAX and Van Nuys that are zero emissions vehicles and incentive programs used to phase out emissions generating vehicles, electrification goals and the timelines of the programs.

• And plans to electrify parking facilities, including the current percentage of parking spaces that offer electric vehicle charging.

The second motion was co-introduced with Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson and seeks to improve access to the airport for its 50,000 employees. 

The motion ordered reports from LAWA within 120 days on:

• Establishing organizational and transit improvement goals for the recently established Transportation Management Organization at LAX, which ensures that stronger communication and enhanced transportation services are built out over time to reduce private car commuting, traffic and pollution.

• Improving data and meeting employee transit needs, including on a strategy for the Transportation Management Organization office to capture data on employee working hours and commuting patterns and how that data can address gaps in commuter programs or public transport.

• The financial and legal feasibility of creating a LAWA-operated ride share, employee shuttle and FlyAway service to offer free transit for airport-based employees, or transit at reduced cost.

• Strategies to improve the competitiveness of public transit and commuter programs to airport workers.

• And the feasibility of establishing an independent nonprofit to administer an airport area transportation management organization organization that encompasses employers in L.A., El Segundo and nearby L.A. County unincorporated areas.

The third motion — which was co-introduced with Council President Nury Martinez, Councilman Kevin de León and Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez — seeks to create an agreement between LAWA and its airport trade and services union with a mutually agreed upon framework with conditions, commitments, obligations and enforcement provisions. The agreement would enhance worker protections, create better and more affordable transportation options, have the airport monitor air quality and create a faster transition to zero-emission vehicles to address pollution in the area.

As a nearby resident and worker at LAX, I want to make sure that city leaders work with community members to ensure that this project does not disproportionately affect working families,” said Jovan Houston, an employee at LAX, in a statement released by Bonin’s office last month.

For far too long, Black and brown communities have paid a high toll and our quality of life and health have suffered. We look forward to working with the L.A. City Council to ensure that we protect the health and environment of working-class communities, make public transit safe, affordable and accessible and guarantee that any jobs that come from this project are good jobs that help all people in Los Angeles thrive.”

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