efforts to control JWA
Newport Beach has been
negotiating with the County to gain control over the future of John Wayne Airport,
packaging a deal on the airport with several easier to sell “sphere
Mayor Steve Bromberg outlined the city's goals in his "Resolutions for
'05" in the Daily Pilot: "First, as a city, we would like to
lack of a better term, complete veto power over future airport
expansion. What this simply means is, we, the city of Newport Beach,
would like to have the say as to any future expansion, including
runways, additional runways or expanded runways, because runways relate
to additional flights. The second issue is, we would like to have that
same veto power on curfews."
document requests on the City and the County under the California
Records Act in an effort to inform viewers as to what is occurring out
early indications that the County would not discuss JWA, the City
has plugged away at its goal. Newport
wants a long-term agreement with the current supervisors to bind the
County beyond 2015 when the existing JWA caps expire.
In our view, current county supervisors should do nothing to restrict
the future of JWA - which is already constrained until 2015 -
having a plan in place for getting O.C. travelers to other airports.
Decisions about JWA should be made by future supervisors when the need
for Southern California airport capacity is clearer.
The JWA night curfew is incorporated into county regulations and will
continue indefinitely unless the Board of Supervisors takes action to
make a change which must comply with provisions of the California
Environmental Quality Act.
February 23, 2004, representatives of the two sides met following an
exchange of letters between the mayor of Newport Beach, and Tom Wilson, then
Chairman of the Board of Supervisors.
not on the table at the first of “two meetings with Supervisors Silva
and Wilson” and three with County Executive Officer Tom Mauk, Newport Beach
staff reported (on March
22, 2005). “The Board of Supervisors did not immediately
accept our invitation to discuss sphere issues; certain sphere issues
[i.e. JWA] were not discussed during the first meeting involving
the February meeting, on April 19, 2004 Wilson,
Silva, Mauk or his representative, County Council and staff met amongst
themselves to review Newport’s
position papers on the proposed sphere issues. Despite earlier County
proposals were discussed at this internal meeting.
proposed by the City and reviewed at that meeting included the
- The City would take over
administration from the County of the Santa Ana Heights Redevelopment
District which includes John
Wayne Airport. The City would thereby
gain some additional authority over land around the airport.
- The City and County also would enter into a
Joint Powers Agreement (JPA). Under the JPA, the City would acquire a
veto over JWA hours of operation, property acquisitions that would
significantly alter existing approach or departure patterns, and
“decisions related to any physical expansion of the airport.”
told by an informed source that the “Joint Powers Authority idea
was DOA” at the County. However, Newport Beach would not
- The payoff for a deal on the
airport would be the assumption, by the City, of County costs
associated with the other sphere issues - principally Coyote Canyon
landfill, Upper Newport Bay, and Santa Ana Heights .
Almost a year later, on March 3, 2005, both sides met again and
the airport was a topic. No public information was divulged regarding
communications during this period.
As a follow up to the March 3 meeting, Newport Beach City Manager
Homer Bludau wrote to CEO Thomas Mauk on May 4, 2005. He offered a
“proposal [that] is extremely fair in light of the City's willingness
to revise its position with respect to JWA and the fact that the
proposed Joint Powers Agreement is consistent with the current position
of the Board of Supervisors on the size and operational characteristics
- The proposal would create a Newport Beach
“zone of influence” that includes the Santa Ana Heights Redevelopment
Agency, the airport, and “possibly other property adjacent to the
existing airport [west] boundary”. This “zone of influence” would
include part of Costa Mesa
between the airport and Red
- The proposed JPA would “require a
party's consent to the other party's amendment of certain land use
ordinances/resolutions related to the area of influence . . . and
require consent to the acquisition of property that has the potential
to materially impact Santa
residents or the environment.” Reference was made to “the assumptions
in EIR 582” which was
prepared in 2002 as the basis for the
unsigned document observes: “The FAA has recently released portions of
a Mitre Corporation report that concludes JWA, Long Beach and other
regional airports would have to increase capacity to serve anticipated
demand in the 2013 and 2020 time frames . . . Continued growth in
County and the region will, over time, create the potential for the
County, the FAA, the air carrier industry, the business community
and/or the traveling public to at least consider ways that JWA can
serve more passengers.”
- A document dated March 3, 2005
estimates that the entire "sphere issue" package could
benefit the County by $2.4 million per year. Another
document shows a "County benefit" of $1.2 million annual
savings plus "other benefits" comprised of a lump sum of $800,000 and
annual savings of $500,000.
The document continues: “Newport Beach . . . [is] comfortable
with the current Settlement Agreement but concerned about the County's
ability – long-term – to maintain the protection it affords after
current Members of the Board are no longer in office.”
The creatively structured deal proposed by Newport Beach would empower the City
to veto any future physical expansion of the county airport, including
lengthening of the runway. These restrictions would be in force regardless
of what future Supervisors or voters deem necessary for the good of the
County as a whole.
A second request to the county for documents, produced no record
of any written response to
May 4, 2005 letter.
At the June 14, 2005 NPB City Council meeting, City Manager Bludau
reported that staff’s first priority for 2005-6 "deals with sphere
issues. He stated that they want to reach agreement with the
Board of Supervisors relative to John Wayne Airport (JWA)."
On February 22, 2006 Supervisor Silva arranged a follow-up meeting on
the "spheres issues" with Supervisor Wilson, County Executive Officer
Tom Mauk and staff. Three Newport Beach council members and their City
Manager participated. Expansion of John Wayne airport was an area of
concern to Newport. County staff was advised to continue the
The Daily Pilot of July 4, 2006 reported that "sphere issues" remained
his current first priority, negotiations with the county had continued
and City Manager Bludau hoped to have an agreement to his city council
in July 2006.
The Newport Beach city council agendized approval of a proposed
agreement for its August 1, 2006 meeting and then removed the item.
The City Manager recommended continuing the matter to "a future meeting
in late August or early September to allow for continued discussions
with County staff and supervisors.”
One county supervisor’s staff member told us shortly thereafter that
“There is no deal between the County and the City.” Another
that the negotiations "are not going anywhere" so far as John Wayne
Airport is concerned.
Approval of the spheres agreement was agendized for the Newport Beach
City Council meetings in August and September but pulled both times by
the city manager to allow for more negotiations.
Another California Public Records Act request to the county produced 67
pages of documents, none of which mentioned the airport. The airport
deal was apparently being kept secret.
the city council meeting of October 10, 2006, the proposed "Cooperative
Agreement" was finally made public. Several residents spoke against
an element added to the package by Supervisor Jim Silva that dealt with
a trail on Mesa Drive. The council voted unanimously to approve the
agreement noting that its key airport runway veto component was a "huge
The county immediately agendized the agreement for approval at the next
Board of Supervisors meeting on October 17. The agenda item description
made no mention of the airport and the agreement was not attached to
the similarly vague Agenda Staff Report. After the Editor of this
website complained to the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors and the
County Counsel that the agenda appeared not to meet the public
disclosure standards of the Brown [open meeting] Act, the item was
pulled and rescheduled for the October 24, 2006 meeting with a new
On October 20 the agenda item title for the October 24 meeting was
changed for a second time to represent more closely the much reduced
focus ot the "Cooperative Agreement" and its central issue, the airport.
Revised Title to read: County Executive Office - Approve
cooperative agreement with Newport Beach regarding for certain projects including
Santa Ana Heights Project Area, Mesa-Birch Park, John Wayne
Airport Area Compatibility
and future upper and lower Newport Bay studies - District 2 (Continued
from 10/17/06, Item 69)
Revised October 20, 2006