John Wayne Airport issues . . . as of January 2018
Project Overview: Orange County’s John Wayne Airport has long been cited as one of the greatest continuing threats to the quality of life in Newport Beach. Although a convenient travel option for residents and businesses, it brings unwanted noise and pollution.
Why We Were Watching: SPON’s concern with the airport dates almost from our organization’s inception and is memorialized by SPON’s role as a signatory to the 1985 Settlement Agreement, and each of its extensions. Since 2002, many of SPON’s concerns have been championed by AirFair, a regional political action committee focused on containing JWA’s impacts.
Although there is perennial concern in the community about flight paths, SPON tends to stay away from issues whose solution will benefit one area at the expense of another, and focuses instead on efforts benefiting all residents: seeking fewer, higher, quieter and less polluting flights.
- March 9, 2018 @ 3:00 pm – Friday Airport Forum in the City Council Chambers. The third of three presentations from the JWA Access and Noise Office promises to explain the process by which the limited commercial capacity at JWA is assigned, each year, to the various carriers.
- March 14, 2018 @ 2:00 pm – JWA Quarterly Noise Meeting at JWA headquarters.
- February 12, 2018 The City Aviation Committee met (agenda), with Councilman Herdman (Chair) out sick and the JWA personnel on holiday. Results from the City’s independent noise monitoring are not yet available, but may be by the next meeting, likely in April.
- February 9, 2018: A Friday Airport Forum was held with JWA Access and Noise Office staff providing the second of three presentations from them, this one about the Settlement Agreement and Access Plan.
- January 26, 2018: A Friday Airport Forum was held with JWA Access and Noise Office staff giving a “Noise 101” presentation detailing how aircraft noise is monitored and reported.
- January 23, 2018: City Manager Dave Kiff posted a Letter to the Community regarding airport issues.
- January 19, 2018: US Department of Justice signs agreement concluding City’s lawsuit against the FAA’s NextGen/Metroplex Project. The agreement has been posted and can be viewed as City Contract No. C-7291-1. It encourages trials of an “S-curve” departure, and promises City and public review of any future changes to flight paths.
- January 9, 2018: The City has announced a tentative agreement with the FAA resulting from mediation over the FAA’s handling of their Environmental Impact Statement regarding the new GPS-controlled NextGen flight paths. The settlement (the text of which has not yet been released) purportedly involves a number of deal points favorable to residents, as detailed in the City announcement. SPON was supposedly invited to participate in the mediation, but to the best of its knowledge was not informed of that opportunity.
- December 13, 2017: The JWA Quarterly Noise Meeting was held in a new format, with Noise Office staff giving PowerPoint presentations to the public in attendance on various topics of interest, followed by an open question and answer period.
- December 11, 2017: the City Aviation Committee met. The announced topics (see agenda) included possible implementation of a “Fly Quiet” program, encouraging airlines to reduce noise impacts, although nothing concrete appeared to decided regarding that.
- December 8, 2017: Aviation Committee Chair Jeff Herdman and City Manager Dave Kiff held their second informal community get-together regarding JWA issues in the City Council Chambers from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Mr. Herdman collected sets of four questions from members of the audience and Mr. Kiff attempted to answer them.
- November 30, 2017: Council member Diane Dixon held a town hall on NexGen issues for Peninsula residents at Marina Park from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.
- The City’s online calendar has twice listed a “Community Forum on John Wayne Airport,” apparently featuring work done by AWG. It was first listed for November 15 and then for December 6. Both times the listing disappeared without the event happening.
- November 17, 2017: Council member (and Aviation Committee Chair) Jeff Herdman and City Manager Dave Kiff held the first of planned periodic opportunities for informal discussions about airport issues. The meeting, as will apparently be the pattern, was held in the City Council Chambers from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. on a Friday afternoon.
- October 30, 2017: The City’s Aviation Committee held one of its rare meetings. There was some talk of the City instituting a “Fly Quiet” incentive program, but little concrete happened.
- October 6, 2017: Following on the September 15 event, AirFair hosted a second, even better attended public forum. Mayor Kevin Muldoon, Council member Jeff Herdman, City Manager Dave Kiff and City Attorney Aaron Harp presented and fielded questions.
- September 26, 2017: the City Council held a public study session at 4:00 p.m. regarding the City’s response to the new departure procedures at JWA, and at its evening meeting passed Resolution 2017-63 endorsing certain new and renewed actions with respect to the airport.
- September 15, 2017: AirFair hosted on a public forum on JWA issues at the Newport Beach Tennis Club in Eastbluff.
Settlement Agreement related events
- In 2017, JWA approached SPON and the other signatories with a second request to amend the recently-extended Settlement Agreement, this time to increase the allowed number of seats on “commuter” aircraft from 70 to 76. Although the change seemed very small, SPON was not convinced of the airport’s claim that this would reduce noise, and was concerned that it would instead lead to the present Settlement Agreement limited number of passengers being placed on a larger number of planes, each as noisy as the present ones carrying more. In addition, SPON was concerned about a rumored threat by Southwest Airlines to attempt to invalidate the Agreement in its entirety if the change was made. The airport tabled the matter after SPON requested indemnification, but it is likely to return in 2018.
- In 2015, SPON reluctantly agreed to minor increases in the noise levels allowed by the Settlement Agreement at the airport’s seven automated monitoring stations in Newport Beach, supposedly necessitated by the installation of newer, “more sensitive” microphones.
- In 2014, SPON completed negotiation of the second of two extensions of the historic JWA Settlement Agreement. This one limits commercial jet operations through 2030. The previous extension, signed in 2003, would have expired in 2015.
- A departure path of less resistance might be coming to JWA (Daily Pilot, September 27, 2017 — SPON has not taken a position on this)
- JWA’s Noise and Access page, including Quarterly Noise Abatement Reports, Quarterly Noise Meeting dates and interactive Flight Track Viewer (“VOLANS”)
- JWA’s Settlement Agreement page, including key terms.
- Newport Beach City Council Airport Policy (Policy A-17) and archive of past versions (most recent includes Settlement Agreement as an attachment)
- City Manager’s January 23, 2018, Letter to the Community regarding airport issues.
- City complaint form (to be forwarded to FAA regarding NextGen/SoCal Metroplex flight issues)
- City’s Aviation Committee page, including links to Monthly Reports prepared by the City’s JWA consultant (and one-time Mayor) Tom Edwards, which seem to be the City’s primary mechanism for disseminating JWA-related information
- Aviation Committee Chair, Councilman Jeff Herdman, maintains a blog on his campaign website that includes entries updating constituents on aviation-related matters
- City’s JWA issues page
- AirFair (citizens activist group affiliated with SPON, meetings open to public)
- Airport Working Group (similar to AirFair, but an older outgrowth of SPON; board meetings closed to public)
- Environmental Documentation
- Original 1981 Environmental Impact Statement (triggered dispute leading to Settlement Agreement) — online on Hathi Trust and Google Books
- EIR 508 for 1985 Master Plan, all volumes available on Hathi Trust digital library, or Google books:
- EIR 582 for 2003 extension (allowed massive expansion of terminal) — in print at Newport Beach Public Library + supplemental report for terminal construction
- EIR 617 for 2014 extension: draft online at JWA (with explanation here); in print at Newport Beach Public Library (draft and final)