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Newsletter No. 7, Aug. 24, 2022

· Torrance Airport history.

· Special meeting called when Council cannot agree on a District 2 appointment.

Torrance Airport is both a community benefit and a community problem.

Today’s newsletter will not touch on all the issues, but I hope after reading it you will want more information. In future issues I will provide more.

Most of the pilots flying out of the airport pay attention to the rules. It’s the old 80-20 rule: 80 percent of the problems are caused by 20 percent of the pilots – although in this case, it might be more 90-10.

This is not new. When I was the Daily Breeze managing editor, we covered a City Council meeting where Mayor Katy Geissert, a moderate Republican, threatened to close the airport. Councilmember Bill Applegate, a conservative Republican, was so furious with the offending pilots that he proposed turning the airport into a golf course.

The Council’s anger arose from the pilots’ lawsuit to prevent the housing development planned for the northeast corner of Ocean Ave. and Lomita Blvd. The pilots backed down and withdrew the suit.

What has caused the issue to return to center stage? The lack of a noise-monitoring system for almost two years. But there are other problems, as well: Planes flying too low and the pollution from leaded fuel.

To do justice to all the aspects of this controversy, I would need what newspapers call a double truck – imagine two facing pages in the Los Angeles Times.

So today, I am going to give you just a quick snapshot. I promise more later.

The reason for the urgency: Residents pushed the City to act on their complaints. Because the FAA is a factor, City Attorney Patrick Sullivan has reportedly talked to outside counsel, a law firm, we have been told, with FAA experience. The questions: Have they been retained? Whom have they represented? Cities seeking to protect residents’ interests? Or pilot associations?

I reached out to Sullivan on Aug. 11 and asked for the name of the firm. As of this posting, I have not heard back from him. When the City retains a firm – if it hasn’t already – transparency would be appreciated.

Residents are fearful that, based on the law firm’s advice, the City will present them with a fait accompli. They would like to have a seat at the table for any discussions leading to plans.

To help make that happen, the Riviera Homeowners Assn. has created a petition. The online version -- -- was at 284 signers when I posted this newsletter. That doesn’t include people who have signed the paper copies being circulated in neighborhoods. If you live in an impacted neighborhood and would like to participate but are uncomfortable signing anything online, please email Judy Brunetti (

What neighborhoods? Clearly the RHA has felt the impact and is leading the movement. But it is not alone.

Seaside resident Deanna Cowell told me how distressed she is by the low-flying planes that have come so close that she found herself involuntarily ducking.

Residents of Marble Estates and New Horizons are equally distressed and relate their inability to sit in their own backyards because of the planes’ noise.

In future emails, I will introduce you to some of my sources – people such as Riviera resident Richard Root – who are very knowledgeable about the issues.

If you don’t want to wait, here is some background on the reason for being concerned with pollution from leaded airplane fuel (my thanks to Sue LaVaccare and Russ Vakharia for providing these links):

This link is to the study’s actual report that generated the news release:

Finally, here is the link to the congressional hearing into the problems:

Before I go:

The Council, unable to agree on a candidate to fill the vacant District 2 seat, voted to have a special meeting on August 31st at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers. They narrowed the field of six candidates to three: Bridgett Lewis, Liz Pino and Alan Masnek. And all but Aurelio Mattucci agreed to rule out a coin toss to pick a new Councilmember.

Masnek was nominated by Mayor George Chin, Pino by Mike Griffiths, and Lewis by Sharon Kalani. Mattucci and Jon Kaji, who made a point of saying he had conferred with no one, voted for Masnek.

Many of you reviewed the candidates’ applications and told me you thought Pino and Lewis were the two most qualified candidates. I agree. An objective examination of their qualifications vs. Masnek’s makes that point quite clear. Interestingly, Chen, speaking between voting rounds in favor of Masnek, praised him for his inexperience.

When City Attorney Patrick Sullivan explained the Council’s options in case of a stalemate, he said a coin toss was permissible. While Chen spoke in favor of that method, he fortunately voted not to have one.

Mattucci was the only member to vote against the special meeting. His reasoning? He favored the coin toss. Mattucci was also the lone vote against disqualifying Arthur Schaper because he had failed to truthfully fill out his application. The other candidates who failed to get their names put into play were Charles Deemer, James Hill and Robert Lippert.

Griffiths gets credit for making the Schaper motion and Kalani for seconding it. She also deserves applause for hanging tough for Lewis and not switching to Masnek.

On Wednesday, when the Council considers Masnek, Lewis and Pino for the vacant seat, Chen has a chance to show leadership.

He can save the City more than $500,000 for a potential special election, which would come out of reserves, by switching to one of the better qualified candidates. He might not get his choice, but he would show a welcomed willingness to work with others.

We shall see. Stay tuned.

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