The Airport Working Group of Orange County is a community advocacy, non-profit organization, unique among its peers nationwide. Since its founding in 1982 to represent community associations and citizens of Newport Beach significantly impacted by aircraft operations at John Wayne Airport, AWG has been transformed into a countywide organization with its 17 member Board representing communities from Newport Beach to the Cities of Tustin, Orange and beyond. The governing Board, in addition to being geographically diverse, is made up of professionals in various areas of the aviation field including law, engineering and air traffic control as well as community planning and real estate, giving the Board a broad ranging perspective on the relationship of airports to the surrounding community.
During the 28 years since its founding, AWG has consistently used its strong member support and technical acumen to achieve its goals with extraordinary efficacy. It was a party to the 1982 lawsuit that ultimately resulted in the JWA Settlement Agreement that gave citizens affected by JWA the strongest airport restrictions on any airport in the United States. In the 1980s, AWG spent seven years successfully defending against legislation in the California Legislature that would have deprived California citizens of their rights to use the courts to gain compensation for damages caused by aircraft noise and pollution.
In 1990, working with the County of Orange and the City of Newport Beach, AWG successfully petitioned the United States Congress for an exemption from the rigors of the Airport Noise and Capacity Act (“ANCA”), 49 U.S.C. app. secs. 2151-2158, which allows the JWA settlement, including the curfew, to be extended, as it was for the first time in 2003 for a period of 15 years (20 years for the curfew), even though certain of the JWA settlement provisions had been prohibited by ANCA. Finally, AWG spent 10 years fighting for the conversion of El Toro Marine Corps Air Station to a commercial airport, an effort that, while unsuccessful at the time, is now applauded by individuals and groups throughout the Los Angeles region who recognize the need for more and better air service with fewer environmental impacts.
AWG’s current goals are threefold: (1) achieve an additional extension of the Settlement Agreement for at least another 20 years, the negotiation toward which will be commenced within the next few months; (2) cooperate with other Orange County cities, including Anaheim and Irvine, in developing transportation mechanisms and economic incentives to divert air passengers to other airports such as Ontario International Airport that are willing, ready and able to receive them; (3) cooperate with other Orange County cities, including Anaheim and Irvine, in developing alternative transportation modes including high speed rail, bus and other modalities; and (4) maintain vigilance to ensure that JWA does not expand further, either geographically or operationally.
In short, for 28 years, AWG has been the voice of the Orange County community in the fight to maintain a balance between the economic necessity of efficient air travel, and the health, safety and welfare of surrounding communities. With the continued help and support of our members, we intend to be here to serve throughout the 21st century as well.