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Sun, Jun

Deborah Ale Flint: Hope and a New Era at LAX

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LA PEOPLE--Hope springs eternal, but while nothing can be presumed there is a potential new era in the making at LAX and adjacent Westchester.  After the departure of Gina Marie Lindsey, whose tenure was at first marked with opposition and contention against the surrounding Westside communities--but which ended on a decidedly more optimistic note--the new executive direct director of LA World Airports offers an even more hopeful new era. 

As with our "import" of Philip Washington from Denver to run Metro, our new "import" of Deborah Ale Flint is one heckuva acquisition from Oakland. 

As with Mr. Washington, whose predecessors left him with a golden opportunity to do things unthinkably wonderful, the same exists for Ms. Flint.  Her predecessor, Ms. Lindsey and her amazing staff of planners (including Diego Alvarez, Lisa Trifiletti, Omar Pulido and Chris Koontz) have come a loooooong way from the contentious, unnecessarily fractious relationship of LA World Airports and the City of LA, Metro, and just about everyone else. 

Metro's put up hundreds of millions of dollars, LA World Airports (LAWA) has put up over a billion dollars, and Washington and Sacramento are now throwing in their support (and hopefully more $$$) to create a Crenshaw/LAX and Green Line that will access a People Mover/Metro link at 96th/Aviation, with a first-rate series of car/rail/bus alternatives to access LAX. 

Anyone who's read my past CityWatch articles knows I'm the first to critique arrogance and stupidity...but I'm also the first to praise innovation, hard work, and courage under fire.  My most recent CityWatch article called for new leaders--and for us to recognize and support them, and both Ms. Lindsey (who I often was decidedly and deservedly harsh in the past) and Ms. Flint deserve credit. 

Lots of credit. 

Those of us who had to fight for cooperation, support, and adult behavior from LAWA, Metro and the City of LA for decades are just stunned at the linkage of these entities to create a Metro/LAX link.  Well, we'll all be pleased to note that on Ms. Flint's resume is the BART/Oakland Airport link that connected rail to that key airport.  

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Being from a region that uses both SFO and Oakland airports, it's also hoped that Ms. Flint will recognize both opportunity and challenges for the buildup/transfer of flights to Ontario Airport, which is being transferred to local control of the Inland Empire. 

(And to the Riverside/San Bernardino County leadership, it's encouraged to open your ears, heart and wallets to pay for this transfer to be done right, as well as finding a way to connect the local Metrolink lines for better regional access to Ontario Airport.  Ditto for finding ways to encourage more freight flights to Ontario as an alternative to LAX and other LA County airports.) 

But as evidenced by last Monday's meeting with Westchester residents, Ms. Flint pointed out something that so many of us have also recognized:  the "why" of moving the LAX northern runways into and thrashing Westchester (and thereby thrashing Lincoln and Sepulveda Blvds., as well as a potential north-south rail line from LAX to the Westside and the Valley) is still, still, STILL unanswered. 

Perhaps we thought that all those larger planes would force the relocation of the northern runways, but it's just not yet proven as necessary, for either the present or the future.  And Ms. Flint expressed those same sentiments.  

"The FAA says so," didn't cut it with Eric Garcetti, Bill Rosendahl, Mike Bonin or anyone else, and it appears we have a friend and ally with Ms. Flint. 

As stated earlier, a new era in the making. 

Let's hope that Ms. Flint, Metro leadership, transportation leaders like Mike Bonin, and the rest of us can work together to create a better future of jobs, economic development, environmental improvements, and an enhanced quality of life for both LAX and the City/County of Los Angeles. 

Welcome and good luck to you, Ms. Deborah Ale Flint--and to a cadre of Westchester leaders who've clamored for decades for LAX to be a partner, not a threat. 

May your tenure of good leadership at Oakland International Airport be even more exciting and fruitful at LAX.

  

(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee.  He is co-chair of the CD11Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at  [email protected].   He also does regular commentary on the Mark Isler Radio Show on AM 870, and co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.) 

-cw

  

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 86

Pub: Oct 23, 2015

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