Sunday, November 6, 2016

Los Angeles to Ontario about the airport: ‘There it is, take it’


Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti hands a ceremonial key to Ontario International Airport Authority President Alan Wapner giving the city of Ontario control of the airport once again Wednesday. Officials with the city of Ontario, Los Angeles, and the region took part in a ceremony officially handing over the control of Ontario International Airport to the city of Ontario Wednesday.

The words, mimicking William Mulholland’s own from 1913 at the ceremony to open the Los?Angeles Aqueduct, were spoken once again Wednesday, this time by L.A.?Mayor Eric Garcetti at the ceremony marking the metropolitan city’s transfer of Ontario International Airport to local officials after 50?years of running the facility from afar.

Other dignitaries making an appearance include Sen.?Dianne Feinstein, members of Congress from the Inland?Empire, local leaders and former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. The invitation-only ceremony was held at the western end of Terminal 4, which remained in operation during the event.

Garcetti presented a ceremonial key to the airport to Ontario City Councilman Alan Wapner, who also serves as president of the Ontario International Airport Authority, which as of Tuesday, operates the airport.

“This is your airport, we intend to all use it together in a common future, in a common destiny,” Garcetti said.

Wapner, who served as emcee at the event, warmly presented Garcetti to speak to the large crowd as “Southern California’s mayor.” Garcetti wasn’t afraid to reference rancor of the election in his remarks.

“I think the lesson for all of us here today at this moment, when politics have gotten so nasty and politics have gotten so divisive, that we think power is what we cling to and we forget power is sometimes what we’re willing to give up,” Garcetti said.

Garcetti spoke about the mutual benefit the handover will have for both residents in Los?Angeles and the Inland?Empire.

“Those who live around Westchester around LAX want to see less traffic at LAX and want to see Ontario succeed. The folks in Riverside and San?Bernardino and Orange County and, yes, Los?Angeles County want to come to this airport because, yes, it’s quicker. And when we do big things — whether it’s working on homeless, or air quality, or transportation — … it’s time for us to just be Southern Californians tied together to a mutual future that today we see here.”

U.S. Sen.?Dianne Feinstein agreed both Los?Angeles and Ontario stand to gain from the transfer, with LAX getting some congestion relief. The senator was instrumental in helping broker the transfer between Los Angeles and Ontario.

“With the developed space so that it is airport-sensitive and commercially sensitive, I think we have an opportunity to do something in a time and a place that not many people have,” she said.

Lasorda, who appeared in a commercial in support of local control for Ontario International Airport, brought some laughs from the crowd and pledged he would be using the new airport in the future.

“I feel that representing the Dodgers for 68?years, I’m so happy because I’m going to be leaving a lot of times from this airport to go some place else,” Lasorda said.

Inland?Empire native son Michael Huerta, originally from Rubidoux and now heading the Federal Aviation Administration, spoke about the tremendous opportunity for the region with local control of the airport.

“Ontario you are now the dog that caught the cart … you have a tremendous responsibility to be good stewards of this important asset for this region, and you have the opportunity to do something very special — to define the future of this region,” Huerta said.

“Ontario’s location in the heart of the Inland?Empire is an advantage for area residents who want to avoid languishing in that traffic that we sometimes like to talk about,” he added.

He called the Wednesday ceremony as a watershed moment in the history of the region.

“I wouldn’t’ be surprised if we say (10?years from now) this is the beginning of a stronger and more vibrant regional anchor than it is today,” Huerta said.

Ontario City Manager Al Boling said outside the ceremony he’s anticipating the benefits for the city.

“We’re just looking forward to the opportunity that lies ahead of us, working in collaboration with the Airport Authority to bring development to the region and growth and prosper the largest and greatest economic and jobs engine for the region.”

Ontario International Airport Authority officials say full control will allow them to finally move forward on plans to redevelop land at the airport to generate money toward expanding and improving the regional airport with new money offsetting landing fee costs to entice airlines to return and expand flights.


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