The Planning Report, the excellent publication covering local land use issues, has an insightful interview with Los Angeles World Airports Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey. Of great interest are the questions & answers relating to rail connections, and the slowness of planning under the CEQA system:
Metropolitan LA is building-out ground transit across the region. Is LAX planning the connection points for intersection with Metro’s present and prospective rail lines?
First of all, a robust connection between Metro and the airport is imperative. The airport is staunchly in support of that, and we will, between us and Metro, achieve that. We have a couple of challenges at the moment. One is that Metro was fortunate enough to get Measure R, which expedited their ability to do definitive planning. At the airport we have been lagging on that front because of our specific plan amendment process. The draft EIR has us basically in a programmatic level of development definition until we get CEQA approval. That hopefully will be by June of next year. In the meantime, MTA has been able to race past us, and we can’t keep up because we can’t plan at the same level of detail until we have programmatic CEQA approval. So our draft EIR has a general concept of the airport putting an inter-modal transportation facility (ITF) right around 96th and Lot C, and examines the option of a consolidated rental car facility on Manchester Square. But again, we’re talking bubbles here, so it should not be seen as very precise. The airport would connect the ITF to the terminals by building a dedicated, grade-separated bus-way that could eventually become some sort of automated people mover when airport traffic demand grows. But that’s as detailed as our planning is on the airport side of things. MTA, I think, has narrowed their options down to about four. We’re working with them, and I know they would like us to be more granular in our planning. I hope that we can get the decisions on CEQA so we can oblige them sooner rather than later.
What explains Los Angeles’ ability to expedite a football stadium through environmental review, but you can’t expedite LAX plans?
I wish I had an explanation for that. I really don’t know.
Indeed, the process is far too slow.