By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
39 For all the county's talk about building a giant park at El Toro, the FAA generally frowns on planting big trees and filling deep ponds mere yards from the runways. The reason: birds. It's too easy for small birds to get sucked into big jet turbines at inopportune moments like landings and takeoffs. FAA Advisory Circular 150/5200-33, titled "Hazardous Wildlife Attractants on or Near Airports," makes it clear nothing that attracts birds should sit within 10,000 feet of any runway or taxiway.
40 Megadeveloper, bazillionaire and right-wing political benefactor George Argyros wants it.
41 When taking off, a jumbo jet airliner will devour more than 500,000 gallons of air per second. After five minutes, it has consumed the air produced by 50,000 acres of forest. That same airliner typically spends 32 minutes taxiing on the ground, during which it emits 190 pounds of ozone-depleting nitrogen oxide. By 2020, the airline industry estimates there will be 20,000 such airliners in the skies.
42 The county continues to insist that El Toro is a turnkey operation: open the gates and let the airlines fly in. But according to the 1994 study on El Toro conducted by Kotin, Regan & Mouchly for the city of Laguna Niguel, El Toro's runways, hangars and air-traffic-control center are all outdated and useless for a commercial airport. In addition, the report noted that of all Southern California airport sites, El Toro has "the highest potential civilian casualties in the event of an airplane crash due to the extensive residential and commercial development."
43 According to calculations by Albert E. Domke, operational engineering manager for United Airlines, the airline's Boeing 757s can only take off from El Toro's Runway 7 with 94.5 percent of their maximum payload under calm conditions and just 76.9 percent when 7-knot tail winds are blowing across the pavement.
44 To clarify such a "technical" issue as noise, county officials hauled out noise consultant Vince Mestre for an April 7, 1998, "educational" briefing for the county Board of Supervisors. During his presentation, Mestre offered such insights as "There is a relationship between noise exposure and the population that is affected by noise" and "Studies of human response to noise have shown that human response to noise is very complex." Needless to say, the only noise heard during the board meeting was snoring.
45 Page 6-9 of the county's Airport System Master Plan shows how all four El Toro runways are completely useless and have to go. During construction Phase 1, "the existing 10,000-foot Runway 16R/ 34L will be reconstructed." Phase 2 will see that runway extended a half-mile, as well as the construction of "a new Runway 16L/ 34R." Runway 7R/25L will also have to be "reconstructed." Nothing will happen in Phase 3, but Phase 4 "calls for the construction of a new Runway 7L/25R."
46 The county calls El Toro a "midsize" airport. But the Airport System Master Plan says that in 2020, there will be 412 arrivals and 412 departures every day—824 operations in all. That works out to an average of one operation every two minutes. All day and all night. Sleep tight.
47 Los Angeles International Airport sucked an average of 27.4 percent from the property values of homes surrounding that airport, according to a study by licensed real-estate appraiser Randall Bell. The same study also shows commercial office buildings directly under the LAX flight path along Century Boulevard have a 38.1 percent vacancy rate—17 percent higher than comparable buildings just a couple of miles away.
48 Old George Air Force Base in Victorville is 60 air miles from El Toro and also open for commercial flights.
49 Sometimes, county officials' giddy anticipation of flying hundreds of thousands of planes into El Toro every year gets to them. According to Page 3-3 of the county's 1998 Working Paper 3—JWA/OCA Simulation Assumptions report, El Toro International Airport's "terminal building will have an infinite number of gates to accommodate all aircraft." In addition, "a similar gate with infinite capacity will be created at the airport for general aviation aircraft and for cargo operations." We'd like to say that's a lot of people, but we can't count to infinity.
50 Although county officials like to say that their proposed El Toro International Airport will actually make air quality better here than if nothing is built (stop laughing), Page 4.5-5 of the DEIR says different. A section called "Project Impacts on Regional Air Quality" makes clear that El Toro "would result in exceedances [sic] of all criteria pollutants (CO, NOx, ROC and particulate matter [PM10]). Three of these increases (CO, NOx and PM10) would exceed the operational thresholds established by the [Southern California Air Quality Management District]."