MOORLACH UPDATE — JWA Settlement Agreement — October 1, 2014

The big news is that something as monumental and controversial as the extension of the John Wayne Airport (JWA) settlement agreement for another fifteen years is not big news. It seems as if I’ve been working in some form or fashion on this project since my first day as a County Supervisor. But, it is a Business section lead for the OC Register, in the first piece below. It didn’t even make the top-of-the-fold for the “Newport Beach/Costa Mesa” Daily Pilot, in the second piece below. And the same article made it to page 3 of the LA Times LA Extra section. This shows, in an odd way, what a major success this was for such a long, deliberative and collaborative process.

The goal was to strike a proper balance for the impacted residents and the air carriers that would be acceptable to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). There are various positions on this topic. The 2013-14 Orange County Grand Jury displayed its naiveté with a call to maximize the airport (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Puzzling — August 6, 2014 and MOORLACH UPDATE — Mil-Walkie — July 7, 2014). Then there is the position of trying to reduce the number of flights and passengers, which is prevented by the Airport Noise & Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA). There is also the position of leaving everything as is indefinitely, but that is unreasonable and could jeopardize the entire settlement. There was a strong desire to obtain a fifteen-year extension. The last extension was for ten years. Consequently, this required some form of cooperation with all of the parties. I believe that was accomplished.

I want to thank my colleagues for a unanimous vote. I want to thank the parties to the agreement, including Newport Beach. City Manager Dave Kiff and councilmembers Rush Hill, Keith Curry, and Leslie Daigle worked diligently during the process to craft this proposal. I want to thank Jean Watt of SPON (Stop Polluting Our Newport/Still Protecting Our Newport) and Melinda Seeley of AirFair. I also want to thank Tony Khoury of the Airport Working Group (AWG). The County and JWA were expertly represented by Alan Murphy and Courtney Wiercioch. We also had the assistance of various legal minds, including Tom Edwards and Aaron Harp from the city of Newport Beach, Barbara Lichman from AWG, Steve Tabor with SPON, and Lori D. Ballance of Gatzke, Dillon & Balance. I also want to thank my Chiefs of Staff who chipped in with this effort over the last eight years: Professor Mario Mainero, Rick Francis, Ian Rudge, and Bob Wilson. And I want to thank all of those that I didn’t mention, but who participated.

As a picture is worth a thousand words, Attachment A is provided below. Here are the highlights. The agreement and the curfew have been extended by fifteen years. The current million annual passengers (MAP) cap stays in place for five more years and increases during the next ten years. The cap is well below the full potential capacity of JWA. And current market activity has been well below this threshold. Long distance flights will be increased in 2021, but are some 2 ½ times less than capacity. Loading bridges can expand after 2020, but I see that as highly unlikely as the recent addition of Terminal C has provided sufficient capacity.

In conclusion, almost every impacted city council recommended approval of the Proposed Project and there was only one individual yesterday morning who spoke against it. I would say that this is an incredible success story. It gets better. The day before yesterday’s vote, the FAA provided a letter affirming that the proposed amendments were in conformity with ANCA. This project should be officially closed in a few weeks. Yes!

Attachment A





Proposed Project Alternative A Alternative B Alternative C No Projecta
Term Through December 31,


Through December 31, 2030 Through December 31, 2030 Not Applicable Not Applicable‐ Settlement Agreement Expired
Curfew Through December 31,


Through December 31, 2035 Through December 31, 2035 Through December 31, 2020 Through December 31, 2020
Annual Passenger Limit (MAP)
Phase 1 January 1, 2016– December 31, 2020 10.8 MAP 10.8 MAP 10.8 MAP 16.9 MAP 10.8 MAP
Phase 2 January 1, 2021December 31, 2025 11.8 MAP 11.4 MAP 13.0 MAP 16.9 MAP 10.8 MAP
Phase 3 January 1, 2026December 31, 2030 12.2 or 12.5 MAPb 12.8 MAP 15.0 MAP 16.9 MAP 10.8 MAP
Passenger Flights (Class A ADDs for passenger service)
Phase 1 January 1, 2016December 31, 2020 85 Class A ADDs 107 Class A ADDs (+22) 100 Class A ADDs (+15) 228 Class A ADDs (+143) 85 Class A ADDs
Phase 2 January 1, 2021– December 31, 2025 95 Class A ADDs (+10) 120 Class A ADDs (+13) 110 Class A ADDs (+10) 228 Class A ADDs (+0) 85 Class A ADDs
Phase 3 January 1, 2026– December 31, 2030 95 Class A ADDs 135 Class A ADDs (+15) 115 Class A ADDs (+5) 228 Class A ADDs (+0) 85 Class A ADDs
Cargo Flights (Class A ADDs for allcargo service)
January 1, 2016

December 31, 2030

4 Class A ADDs 4 Class A ADDs 4 Class A ADDs 4 Class A ADDs 4 Class A ADDs
Passenger Loading Bridges
January 1, 2016– December 31, 2020 20 20 20 No Limit 20
January 1, 2021– December 31, 2030 No Limit No Limit No Limit No Limit 20
MAP: Million Annual Passengers; ADD: Average Daily Departures. Table Notes:

Alternative A was delineated based on information contained in the Federal Aviation Administration’s Terminal Area Forecast Detail Report dated January 2013.

Alternative B was delineated based on input from JWA’s commercial air service providers.

Alternative C was delineated based on the physical capacity of JWA’s airfield.

aThe No ProjectAlternative assumes the maximum number of allowable operations under the current Settlement Agreement (as amended in 2003) would remain unchanged and the protection of the curfew would remain in place through 2020; however, there would be no limitation on the Board of Supervisors, to, at a subsequent time, to modify or eliminate the curfew or increase the number of ADD and MAP being served at the Airport. The analysis in this EIR assumes the curfew would stay in place for the duration of the analysis period (i.e., December 31, 2030). Subsequent CEQA documentation would be required to amend the curfew or modify the Access Plan to allow an increase in the number of flights and/or passengers.

b Trigger for capacity increase to 12.5 MAP: air carriers must be within 5 percent of 11.8 MAP (i.e., 11.21 MAP) in any one calendar

year during the January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2025 timeframe.

Source: PROPOSED PROJECT AND ALTERNATIVES: Proposed Extension of the John Wayne Airport Settlement Agreement, Proposed Project and Alternatives A–C, JWA 2013.

The Voice of OC provides the third piece below, with the Newport Beach-Corona del Mar Patch and My News LA providing the City News Service’s piece in fourth position, followed by the press release provided by the Orange County Breeze. For a sampling of some of the previous UPDATES on this topic, see MOORLACH UPDATE — JWA and A-C — April 17, 2013, MOORLACH UPDATE — JWA & CEO — March 22, 2013, MOORLACH UPDATE — Detroit — March 15, 2013, MOORLACH UPDATE — Happy 25th JWA — August 2, 2010, and MOORLACH UPDATE — Filing Closes — March 13, 2010.

JWA to see more planes, passengers

County approves increases in aircraft, travelers in six years.


Orange County supervisors Tuesday approved increasing the number of passengers allowed at John Wayne Airport by 9.2 percent within six years and permitting 10 more flights a day.

The changes will start in 2021, when the county will permit the additional 10 daily departures, on average. The planes involved are the noisiest allowed at the transit hub.

Under the plan, the maximum number of passengers allowed at the airport by 2035 could grow to 12.5 million annually if airlines meet goals for filling planes.

The move softens original regulations imposed on the airport resulting from a 1985 lawsuit against airport expansion plans.

Supervisor John Moorlach said Tuesday the agreement includes “no expansion at the airport.” But he said that if the deal didn’t give a little, it’s possible Orange County’s strict restrictions – which allows the airport to remain outside current federal noise regulations – could be thrown out entirely.

“We didn’t want to be so rigid and have it thrown out and maybe lose everything, so we wanted to be very smart about what we’re doing,” said Moorlach, whose district includes Newport Beach.“It is part of our economic base, and it’s something we want to work with in a balanced, fair and appropriate way.”

The 1985 settlement produced an agreement that predated federal noise regulations enacted in 1990 and allowed Orange County to continue to impose its own noise restrictions. Those federal laws largely kept communities from imposing overnight curfews, Supervisor Todd Spitzer said.

This is the second time the 1985 restrictions have been loosened. The last time was in 2003.

Moorlach’s assertion that the airport wouldn’t get biggerdidn’t satisfy Jim Mosher, a Newport Beach resident since 1980 who was the only person to voice opposition Tuesday.

“This is a plan for further expansion,” Mosher said. “Look no further than Los Angeles, where the growth of LAX devastated once vibrant and affluent residential communities. I don’t think we want that in Orange County.”

Major stakeholder groups, including Stop Polluting Our Newport, an original plaintiff in the case against airport expansion in 1985, said the move is a necessary compromise as businesses and airlines continue to call for more access to the airport.

“It’s the best we could get,” said Marko Popovich, president of the resident-backed organization. He said while he would like to keep the restrictions unchanged, he saw “all the airlines that are multimillion-dollar corporations … on the other side.”

With the approval, the airport’s “one-of-a-kind” curfew, as staff characterized it in a report, will continue through 2035. That prohibits planes from taking off between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. and landing from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday. On Sundays, the curfew is an hour later for takeoffs and landings, 8 a.m.

Now, a maximum of 10.8 million passengers can move through the airport each year and 85 “Class A” planes are allowed to depart daily, on average. Planes in this class often travel longer distances and carry more fuel, which tends to increase noise during takeoff, said Jenny Wedge, a spokeswoman for John Wayne Airport.

Last year, the airport saw about 9.2 million passengers, Wedge said. The same number is expected this year.

Without Tuesday’s approval, the settlement agreements would have expired in 2015. Extending the noise regulations without an extension of the settlement agreement would leave the county vulnerable to lawsuits from the Federal Aviation Administration and business groups interested in freeing up airplane traffic, county staff wrote in a report.

Contact the writer: kmejdrich

JWA will keep curfew, increase passengers and flights as O.C. approves new regulations

By Jill Cowan

An extension to a legal agreement that makes Orange County’s John Wayne Airport one of the most tightly regulated commercial airports in the nation cleared a major hurdle Tuesday as county supervisors voted unanimously to approve it.

"It seems like the day I was elected, it was like, ‘Let’s work on this settlement agreement,’" said Supervisor John Moorlach, whose district includes the airport. "It’s been a long process, but I’m pleased with the results."

The current agreement, which resulted from a 1985 legal settlement aimed at curbing the airport’s noise effects on the community, is set to expire in 2015.

The extension comes after years of closed-door negotiations among the four settlement parties (two Newport Beach residents groups, the city of Newport Beach and the county) and a months-long environmental review process. It will keep in place the airport’s strict flight curfews until 2035 — a victory for Newport Beach residents who have long fought to limit noise from jets roaring over their homes.

However, it also allows yearly passenger and flight caps to grow starting in 2021.

Because the county was allowed to grandfather in its airport regulations after the 1990 passage of the Airport Noise and Capacity Act, which essentially made it impossible to impose new airport curfews, negotiators had to strike a careful balance.

Though Newport Beach residents have pushed hard to keep passenger and flight caps at their current levels, officials cautioned that the airport must be allowed to grow or community members would risk having those regulations thrown out altogether.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, a string of Newport Beach officials thanked county officials for their partnership in crafting an agreement that Councilman Keith Curry called a "great compromise."

He added that their approval was an important step in maintaining the quality of life in communities countywide that lie in the airport’s flight paths.

Supervisor Todd Spitzer, whose district encompasses cities under the airport’s arrival corridor, said that although the airport is an economic driver for the county, "I’ve never taken the position that Newport Beach should absorb the expansion of John Wayne Airport."

The curfews, he said, are key to keeping that from happening.

John Wayne’s noise-based curfews prohibit commercial departures and arrivals before 7 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays and before 8 a.m. Sundays. Departures are prohibited after 10 p.m. daily, arrivals after 11 p.m., except in emergencies.

According to the extension agreement, a cap on annual passengers would stay at 10.8 million through 2020. In 2021, though, the number would be bumped up to 11.8 million, effective through 2025.

In 2026, the cap would be subject to another increase, based on whether the airport’s actual traffic hits a "trigger" level of 11.21 million annual passengers in any year from 2021 to 2025. If traffic hits that level, the passenger cap would increase to 12.5 million annually between 2026 and 2030. If not, the cap would rise to 12.2 million.

Starting in 2021, the number of passenger flights would increase from an average of 85 daily departures to 95.`

The agreement will go once more before the Newport Beach City Council, which has already voted to approve its terms. Then it will go before a U.S. District Court.

Flight Curfew Extended at John Wayne Airport


Community members will continue to stay in the pilot’s seat on John Wayne Airport’s future growth plans, under a deal approved Tuesday that extends the airport’s curfew through 2035.

The deal does allow more flights by the airport’s loudest planes starting in 2021. The cap would increase from the current limit of 85 average daily departures to 95.

The compromise is the byproduct of decades of organizing by Newport Beach residents and city officials who oppose expanding the airport.

As the only commercial airport in Orange County, which has 3.1-million residents, the facility has faced pressure over the years to accommodate increasing travel demand and allow more flights.

“I’m pleased with the outcome,” said County Supervisor John Moorlach, who represents the Newport Beach residents who live under the airport’s main takeoff zone.

The goal was to strike a balance between the interests of people who live near the airport and the interests of air carriers, he said.

“I have not received a negative letter” about the proposed deal, which speaks “very highly” of the process, said Moorlach.

At Tuesday’s county supervisors meeting, representatives of the activist groups urged supervisors to approve the deal. It easily passed on a 5-0 vote.

The lone voice of opposition Tuesday came from Jim Mosher, a Newport resident who often calls out city officials in an effort to make public policy issues more transparent.

Secrecy surrounding the negotiations for the deal prevented any public input or public knowledge, he said.

That includes a trigger mechanism he claims “incentivizes airlines” to increase their flights to the highest-possible levels.

“I fail to see who is served by secrecy,” said Mosher.

He also said the deal’s environmental impact report improperly says residential property values would be enhanced by an expansion of the airport.

“I do not want you to vote today with the thought that further expansion – and this is a plan for further expansion” – is beneficial for surrounding communities, said Mosher.

For decades, the airport has faced pressure to grow as the county’s population exploded.

When the county prepared to expand the airport in the mid-1980s, Newport Beach residents sued, and struck a settlement deal that created the curfew that was just extended.

The residents formed two activist groups – Stop Polluting Our Newport and the Airport Working Group – that continued to be active in the recent negotiations over the curfew and limiting airport expansion.

Fortunately for the activists, they struck a settlement deal with the county before a federal law was passed in the early 1990s that gave federal officials exclusive control over curfews.

Residents were fortunate enough to get a curfew put in before Congress intervened, said Supervisor Todd Spitzer.

“This has always been about protecting the curfew,” he said of the residents’ efforts.

Under the deal approved Tuesday, the airport would also be allowed to handle more passengers, going from the current cap of 10.8 million passengers per year to 11.8 million in 2021.

The passenger cap could increase again starting in 2026 to as many as 12.5 million passengers each year, based on a formula that takes into account previous years.

The current curfew on takeoffs and landings would remain in place. The curfews prohibit “regularly scheduled” commercial flights from taking off between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. and landing between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

On Sunday mornings, takeoffs and landings are prohibited for an extra hour, until 8 a.m.

New passenger loading bridges could be built starting in 2020.

But cargo flights would also be kept at the same level – four daily departures on average – until 2030.

The new deal extends the 1985 settlement agreement between the county, activists and Newport Beach city officials to the end of 2030.

Also supporting the newly-approved deal was the county’s most prominent business advocacy group.

The deal “not only provides for increased air transportation opportunities” but also addresses concerns of the local community, said Matt Petteruto, vice president of economic development at the Orange County Business Council.

The airport is responsible for 43,000 full-time, part-time and seasonal jobs, he added.

As for Mosher’s secrecy concerns, Moorlach noted that the negotiations were in the context of a lawsuit settlement.

“This is litigation. This is ongoing litigation,” a settlement to extend the agreement, said Moorlach.

“We had some fun chats,” Moorlach said of himself and the other negotiating parties, prompting laughter in the chambers.

Supervisors’ Chairman Shawn Nelson then interjected, asking Moorlach if he wanted to motion for the deal to be approved.

Moorlach said yes. It was then approved unanimously.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

Orange County Upholds Curfews for John Wayne Airport, Will Allow More Flights by 2021

The Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved an agreement that maintains curfews at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana through 2035, while also allowing more flights and passengers beginning a dozen years from now.

Supervisors John Moorlach, whose district includes the airport, and Todd Spitzer, who represents multiple cities affected by the flight paths, praised the deal, which extends a legal settlement of disputes regarding jet noise going back to 1985.

“The goal was to strike a proper balance between residents around the airport and the carriers using the airport,” Moorlach said.

Federal laws prohibit a reduction in capacity, and without an extension of the settlement agreement, county officials would lose the curfews, Moorlach and Spitzer said.

The 1985 settlement agreement was extended through 2030 with no change in the curfew until the end of 2035.

The curfew prohibits departures from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. every day with the exception of Sundays, when the curfew is from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. Arrivals are prohibited between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 p.m. through 8 a.m. on Sundays.

A “gradual increase” will be allowed in the number of commercial flights and the level of passengers annually, according to county officials.

The airport is allowed 85 commercial daily flights and 10.8 million annual passengers. Those numbers will not change until Jan. 1, 2021, when 95 daily flights and 11.8 million annual passengers would be allowed.

Starting in 2026, the passenger levels will be allowed to increase again, with no change in the number of daily flights. The amount will depend on the average levels of flights and passengers in the preceding five years.

If the number of passengers between Jan. 1, 2021, through Dec. 31, 2025, is within 5 percent of 11.8 million annually, the amount of passengers may go up to 12.5 million annually through the end of 2030.

If, however, passenger levels do not reach 11.21 million annually in any year between 2021 and 2025, the cap will be 12.2 million annually through the end of 2030.

Officials expect an average of 12.5 million annual passengers and 95 commercial daily flights in 2026 through 2030.

“This agreement goes a long way to protecting the 10.8 (million annual passengers level),” Spitzer said. “The point is this has always been about protecting the curfew.”

The county was “fortunate enough” to have a curfew in place before federal lawmakers in 1990 essentially “outlawed” curfews, Spitzer said.

“There’s a balance between controlling the airport capacity,” Spitzer said, “and the responsibility we have to the economic vitality of our county.”

Newport Beach Mayor Rush Hill told the supervisors it was “truly a special day for Newport Beach and all of the corridor cities.”

County officials have been “great advocates for the impacted communities and we are so pleased you brought us to this day,” Hill said, adding that John Wayne Airport is “one of the best managed airports in the nation.”

Newport Beach City Councilman Keith Curry, who helped craft the agreement approved today while he was mayor, called it a “historic day.”

Curry added the deal was a “great compromise.”

City News Service

OC Supervisors approve extension to 1985 airport agreement that allows passenger growth

By a vote of 5-0, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted this morning to approve the proposed John Wayne Airport (JWA) Settlement Agreement Amendment and to certify Environmental Impact Report 617.

The 1985 Settlement Agreement formalized consensus between the County of Orange, the City of Newport Beach, the Airport Working Group (AWG) and Stop Polluting Our Newport (SPON) on the nature and extent of facility and operational improvements that could be implemented at JWA through 2005. In 2003, the original four signatories approved a series of amendments to the Settlement Agreement that allowed for additional facilities and operational capacity and continued to provide environmental protections for the local community through 2015.

Since early 2012, the County of Orange, the City of Newport Beach, AWG and SPON have been working to craft a second extension of the 1985 Settlement Agreement.

Through what Second District Supervisor John M. W. Moorlach termed a “collaborative and deliberative process which began almost from the time I first took office at the end of 2006,” the four parties reached consensus on a proposed project in a “balanced, fair and appropriate way.”

He continued, “I am extremely proud of the results which achieve a balance between the air transportation needs of Orange County and the local residents living in the vicinity of the airport.”

Third District Supervisor Todd Spitzer commented, “The most important thing this agreement extension does is strike a balance between protecting residents and growing the economic benefits of the airport. Through all of my outreach on this issue, the biggest concern of the residents has been to minimize noise and protect the curfew. I’m glad we’ve done that.”

The amendment approved by the Board of Supervisors maintains JWA’s curfew through 2035 and provides for an increase in passenger service levels from the currently authorized 10.8 million annual passengers (MAP) to 11.8 MAP in 2021 and to 12.2 or 12.5 MAP (depending on actual passenger levels) from 2026 through 2030.

For more details about the Settlement Agreement and the amendment process, visit

The article above was released by John Wayne Airport.

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