LA Councilman calls for separate managers

for Ontario, Van Nuys airports

Rick Orlov and Liset Marquez, Staff Writers

Posted: 11/03/2011 11:31:05 PM PDT

A Los Angeles councilman has called for the city to look into whether Van Nuys Airport should have its own separate managing board so it would receive extra attention rather than competing with L.A./ Ontario International Airport.

Councilman Tony Cardenas on Wednesday requested a report that would look into whether it is practical to create a separate commission for Van Nuys Airport or whether a subcommittee of the seven-member Los Angeles World Airports Board of Airport Commissioners could be created to deal with local issues.

Van Nuys and Ontario airports share a part-time manager.
“Van Nuys Airport is a general aviation airport and is completely different from LAX, completely different from Ontario, but is our valley airport,” said Cardenas, whose district includes the airport.
Cardenas said he wants to see a study on whether a private operator could do a better job managing the facility.
Ontario Councilman Alan Wapner applauded the move.
For Wapner, the discussion by Los Angeles council members is similar to issues raised by Ontario officials in relation to ONT.
Ontario officials have for some time sought to take over ONT, saying they could operate it more efficiently than LAWA.

“I believe local control is the best solution,” Wapner said. “We’ve been saying all along, local is better. This goes to further our case.”
Wapner said LAWA has continued to ignore ONT while diverting resources to LAX.
In recent months, passenger traffic has declined at ONT while LAX has gotten busier.
Wapner said he fears ONT could shut down because passenger traffic has dropped so significantly in the past year.
“They want to keep (ONT) because it is their direct competition, and they want to be able to control that threat,” he said.
On Thursday, Wapner said he was in contact with Los Angeles Councilman Mitchell Englander, who is a proponent of reviewing control of Van Nuys Airport.

Wapner said Englander told him he supported Ontario and its efforts to regain control of ONT.
Wapner said he feels Ontario’s pleas have largely been ignored by LAWA because they are not held accountable by any Los Angeles council members.
The LAWA commission was expanded under the new City Charter in 1999 to require that it include representatives from the communities near Van Nuys Airport and LAX.
The Cardenas proposal was sent to the City Council’s Commerce, Trade and Tourism Committee. He has asked that LAWA officials report back in six months.

The councilman’s request came on the same day Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and airport officials touted major security initiatives and investment at LAX, but made no mention of work at ONT or Van Nuys Airport.
The 162-page study by a blue-ribbon panel of aviation, homeland security and law enforcement experts assembled by Villaraigosa found that further enhancements should be made at LAX, the nation’s third-busiest airport, including improved coordination between the LAX police force and the Los Angeles Police Department.
Wapner said Wednesday’s report is indicative of the lack of attention being paid to ONT by Los Angeles and LAWA officials.
For Wapner, the lack of inclusion also raises the question of how much safety issues are being addressed at ONT.
“I’m certainly concerned that the mayor did not feel it was important to make sure Ontario airport is secured,” Wapner said. “Our security needs to be studied.”

As a follow-up to the report, Villaraigosa announced a 10-point plan aimed at furthering safety measures at LAX, including updated procedures for emergency management and improved collaboration between airport police and the LAPD.
The plan also discussed improving a closed circuit television system, Los Angeles police presence and emergency management at LAX.
In recent years, Wapner said there has been a lack of local law enforcement presence at ONT.
Ontario police officers used to patrol ONT along with airport police but no longer do so.
Wapner said Ontario cannot conduct its own security at the airport because it is not part of the charter and the city would not be given access to security personnel.
– Staff writer Art Marroquin contributed to this report.


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