Pilots will tell you that, with the exception of airparks, housing developments and airports are a poor combination.
That didn’t stop the city of Long Beach, California, from giving the nod to a 260-acre development adjacent to Long Beach/Daughtery Field (LGB).
The Douglas Park project, as it is known, has been several years in the making, according to Amy Bodak, project development bureau manager.
“There were over 4,200 pages in the Environmental Impact Report that were analyzed before the City Council approved the project on Dec. 14,” she said, noting that the council was upholding an October decision of the planning commission approving the project.
The last public meeting included six hours of debate. The Boeing Realty Co., which is behind the project, made some last minute changes, such as reducing the number of homes from 3,800 to 1,400 and adding an additional $1 million to the pot with no strings attached.
According to the Douglas Park web page, the project will transform unused Boeing aircraft manufacturing buildings into a mixed-use community of offices and commercial development, including a business park and approximately 1,400 single-family homes.
The project also includes several acres of open space and hiking and biking trails. Once the area is built out, supporters of the project say it could generate thousands of jobs.
The FAA has gone on record as having concerns about the development. Prior to the Dec. 14 council meeting, David Bennett, FAA director for airport safety and standards, sent a letter to airport manager Chris Kunze expressing concern about the idea of 1,400 homes being built near the airport.
“New residents of property close to the airport may exert pressure on the city for additional noise mitigation,” Bennett wrote.
“Purchasers of these residences should not expect the city to take any action to mitigate aircraft noise at the expense of the airport.”
Bennett stated that the FAA would not support future restrictions on airport operations for the purpose of mitigating the impact of airport noise on these new homes.
The airport already generates noise complaints from neighbors. Pilots are asked to follow noise abatement procedures.
Bennett noted that the project site appears to fall outside of the noise contour zone for the airport, so FAA grant assurances that require the airport sponsor to protect the airport from incompatible development have not been compromised.
Citizens who dispute information presented in the Environmental Impact Report concerning traffic impacts in the area also have criticized the project.
According to Bodak, the statute of limitations for filing an appeal was Jan. 14.
As this issue was going to press, no appeal had been filed.