Regional airport network falls flat

A panel resurrected by L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa makes little headway in developing alternatives to expansion at LAX

Still, a rail extension to Ontario has no funding and would take several years. So would Rosendahl's vision of building light rail or magnetically levitated rail between Anaheim and Ontario.

For the time being, much of the regional airport authority's time has focused on minutiae -- a 29-page report that shows five ways of structuring the agency's board.

To persuade more elected officials to take part, board members are talking about prohibiting the agency from gaining the power of eminent domain, the ability to take private property.

Orange County officials want a "pledge of non-interference" guaranteeing that the authority won't try to increase the number of flights out of John Wayne Airport, said Mario Mainero, chief of staff to Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach.

The county also wants a guarantee that the authority won't lobby the federal government to secure increases in air travel out of Orange County.

"Until . . . they're willing to do those things, the supervisor is not comfortable committing the county to rejoining that agency," Mainero said.

Riverside County Supervisor Bob Buster, who skipped two of the board's last three meetings, said his constituents also have little interest in more air traffic, since they are already upset over night flights by the shipping company DHL.

"That's soured people on the introduction of any other flights -- commercial or otherwise," he said.

Knabe, who served on the first incarnation of the airport authority in the early 1980s, said he fears the agency could end up becoming too welcoming, winding up with as many as two dozen members. Some would-be representatives only want to join to protect their own backyards, he said.

"I think with everyone's effort to be inclusive, we're losing sight of the vision, and that's the regionalization of our air traffic," Knabe said.

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