It has been a while since I have provided you with an update concerning John Wayne Airport and the issues related to the implementation of NextGen takeoff patterns. This has been due, in part, to our (the City) dealing with and responding to the proposed expansion of General Aviation at JWA, talk of runway expansion, and discussing strategies related to a number of airport issues.
Let me first talk about the City’s efforts to address takeoff flight patterns with the individual airlines that will someday result in planes ascending higher and quieter upon takeoff. Talks with the individual airlines have been taking place for the past several months. Specifically two airlines are working with the City right now, however positive progress on efforts to have all air carriers explore different procedures and run test flights is our overall goal. The data gathering firm of HMMH is at the table for these talks and continues to play an important role from a modeling perspective. The City has recently hired an additional airport consultant who, along with our city manager and staff, will facilitate and expand these talks with what we hope will be all airlines flying out of JWA.
As recently as Thursday, Feb. 24th, five of the six air carriers have agreed to flying STAYY (the nonsense name of a particular flight path over the Back Bay), and to running test flights for quieter profiles. These airlines have also agreed to turning over their fleets to quieter aircraft engines in the near term.
Behind the scenes a group composed of myself, Mayor Dixon, Councilman Muldoon, staff, a legislative consultant, an airport consultant, and a representative from each of the three community groups meet every Wednesday to strategize on “next steps” as it relates to accomplishing our overall goal. Some of these next steps include community education, individual meetings with the County Board of Supervisors, meetings with newly elected Assembly members and members of Congress, planning trips to Washington DC to lobby for support, and phone conference conversations with the various consultants we have hired.
I’m sure that many of you are completely unaware of the fact that the city has some very dedicated and hard-working volunteers who continue to represent you on all John Wayne Airport issues. Some have participated in talks with the airlines and have gotten us to the place where we are today. Others lend their thoughts, skills and expertise to the overall effort by attending and contributing to weekly strategy meetings. While I regret that it is the issue of John Wayne Airport that brings this talent to the forefront in the form of community volunteers, I am particularly grateful for their willingness to be a part of the overall solution, and very much enjoy working with them.
Overall we are encouraged by the progress being made, however, those of us who live under the flight path are understandably frustrated by what appears to be no change in the noise level of flights departing from JWA. While patience in this particular case is a virtue, know that you patience is most appreciated by those of us who are working daily on this issue. Also know that the six major air carriers who fly out of JWA continue to work in a most cooperative manner with us. As long as the doors remain open, the City will continue to work and advocate for you concerning all John Wayne Airport Issues.
Annual Council/Community Workshop
Held on Saturday, Feb. 2nd at City Hall, the Council’s annual community workshop was well attended, and some excellent exchange took place between the council and community members. Below are some of the more interesting outcomes from the 9:00-12:30 p.m. session.
From the Community:
Use of organic pesticides was discussed and encouraged;
Election Reform was requested;
The use of interactive technology for use with the General Plan Update process was put forth as an excellent way to reach a broad segment of the city population;
Consider juggling code enforcement hours so that code enforcement staff is on duty 24 hours a day;
Request for a public restroom at the end of the peninsula;
Request for increased pressure washing of city ocean piers on the peninsula.
Public input was also received on city infrastructure needs.
Current Contingency Reserve = $49.1 million (these funds represent 25% of the General Fund Budget and represent three months of operating funds)
Property Taxes = 50% of the General Fund Budget All sources of revenue are up!
Sales Tax = 15% of the General Fund Budget
TOT Tax = 10% of the General Fund Budget
Funding Challenges include: Pension Liability
Workers’ Compensation (claims are up and are more severe)
Infrastructure Needs (Newport Beach is aging)
Service level considerations were also discussed. Things like enforcement, maintenance of city facilities, delivery of services (in-house versus outsourcing), a staffing increase for NBPD motorcycle officers, increase parking enforcement, and if code enforcement staffing should be increased. Pedestrian safety at the corner of PCH and Superior was also brought up. A really good morning of interaction with the community.
I wish we did more of this. Maybe I’ll do something about that, as well!
As always, much thanks for reading and keeping yourself informed. Please never hesitate to contact with me with simple or difficult questions/subjects. I thoroughly enjoy serving you.