Airport Commissioner Valeria Velasco was pleading with her colleagues on Tuesday not to support moving the airport's northernmost runway 260 feet closer to homes and businesses. She argued that the plan would impact the quality of life for nearby residents (she has a place in Playa del Rey). Velasco lost badly - the Board of Airport Commissioners voted 6-1 to recommend an airport modernization plan that includes the runway shift, a move that will allow large aircraft to more easily maneuver around the field. But this is merely a prelude: The proposed makeover must now be approved by the city Planning Commission, the County Airport Land Use Commission, the L.A. City Council, the mayor, and the FAA. Even assuming no one challenges the changes in court (and you can be sure someone will), the process is certain to drag out several more years - and that's before they break ground. It could easily be a decade or more before the runway gets moved, if the runway gets moved. Other parts of the plan, including a consolidated rental car facility and people mover, might take longer. Ms. Velasco needn't worry too much - she and her neighbors can spend many more years in their homes without fear. In fact, there's plenty of time for the city to consider a eminent domain-type arrangement that would allow residents and businesses to make their exits without suffering any financial hardship. That's what all sides should really be thinking about.
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