Mayors Richard Riordan, James Hahn and Antonio Villaraigosa all determined that Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) modernization was essential to the future of our city and region. They each put forth a plan to begin the fix and each time that plan was opposed by LAX neighbors. The result has been a two-decade delay in the modernization of LAX and an embarrassment for our city, region and state.

On April 30, the Los Angeles City Council voted to give LAX the opportunity to compete with the rest of the world in airport safety, convenience and efficiency. That vote in favor of modernization will create thousands of jobs, dramatically improve our image and significantly increase the quality of life for local residents who use LAX. The vote acknowledged what pilots, airlines and the last three Federal Aviation Administrators have all stressed for years — that safety and efficiency at LAX depend in large part on moving the north runway to allow for the construction of a center taxiway on the north airfield. A masterful plan was developed to achieve that goal without purchasing any additional property, homes or businesses. It was a historic day.

Last week lawsuits against the approved modernization plan were filed by a number of entities: a labor union that was recently decertified by the employees of a company at the airport; the City of Ontario and the County of San Bernardino who are trying to get the City of Los Angeles to sell them Ontario Airport; the Cities of Inglewood and Culver City who are seeking financial remuneration; and a neighborhood coalition that has been a part of all the previous lawsuits on the future of LAX. Each lawsuit, for a different reason, claims that Los Angeles World Airports violated the California Environmental Quality Act.

We are confident that the environmental documents are thorough, accurate and will hold up in court, but we know that these lawsuits will delay modernization for several more years. Once again, we have a desperately needed project approved by all the relevant governmental entities and supported by a robust majority of citizens in Los Angeles, but opposed by a select few that are using the courts to delay improvements in airport safety and what is best for our region. Once again, we have a project designed to address our aging infrastructure, create jobs and help Los Angeles move into the 21st century. And once again, we’ll waste precious tax dollars and time bogged down in court battles and appeals. But we have no other choice than to fight for the long range plan outlined by the Board of Airport Commissioners. The short term political compromises of the past have resulted in the embarrassing airport we have today.

Los Angeles is the city where people come to dream. The first stop on that dream is often LAX, which in its current state, fails to live up to what our world-class, cosmopolitan city deserves. The plan approved on April 30 can change all that. We urge the incoming City Council and Mayor-Elect Eric Garcetti to remain committed to turning the dream of a better LAX into reality and not let the most recent round of lawsuits lead to compromises that continue the never-ending nightmare for our citizens and passengers at LAX.