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LAX, Local Concerns Top Forum with Mayor, Councilman, Others

A problem-plagued LAX was the top-of-mind concern for audience members at a Nov. 6 public forum featuring Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman Mike Bonin and other city leaders.

“First 100 Days, Plus,” sponsored by the West Los Angeles and Westchester Playa Democratic clubs drew about 150 people to the Hilton Center for Business on the LMU campus.

Garcetti and Bonin, whose 11th Council District includes the airport, praised police for reacting swiftly to the Nov. 1 LAX shooting rampage that left one TSA officer dead and three other people wounded.

“The speed at which they got there  . . . and were able to save as may lives as they did was nothing short of heroic,” Garcetti said.

The mayor revealed in the days after the incident that suspected gunman Paul Ciancia, who has been charged with murder, had 100 rounds of ammunition left at the time he was shot and wounded by police.

But Bonin faulted the airport for poor communication with stranded passengers, many of whom were left to wander Century Boulevard with no clear idea of what to do or where to go. Airport Twitter updates were largely useless to passengers who didn’t use the online service or didn’t know the airport’s Twitter handle.

Signage and mobile phone text alerts might be more effective communication tools, the councilman said.   Audience members, many of them Westside residents, applauded enthusiastically when Garcetti affirmed his opposition to a controversial plan to move the northernmost runway at LAX.

The mayor voiced support for the spread of air traffic to the underused LA/Ontario International Airport, but said that won’t happen until Ontario drops a lawsuit that seeks to wrest control of the airport from Los Angeles World Airports, which manages the facility.

“I can’t negotiate with a gun to my head, so please drop that [lawsuit] and we’ll sit down and talk,” Garcetti said.

Bonin said the city needs to move forward with an LAX modernization plan that would include terminal upgrades, a Metro rail link, consolidated rental car center and people mover.

Sharing the dais with Garcetti and Bonin were City Attorney Mike Feuer and City Controller Ron Galperin. Feuer said he plans to make the fight against gun violence a top priority of the City Attorney’s Office.