City Council Buys LAX Parking Lot

The Los Angeles City Council Friday approved the purchase of a parking lot next to Los Angeles International Airport for $126.5 million, even though critics claimed the price is too high.

The lot has been for sale at least two other times over the past 20 years, but Los Angeles World Airports, which operates LAX, passed on earlier opportunities to buy it -- even when the asking price was less than $30 million.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn initially opposed the purchase, but changed her mind after LAWA officials told her it was a unique opportunity.

"In this tough economy, we need to do absolutely everything in our power to ensure that travelers choose LAX as the gateway to our city," Hahn said. "Modernizing LAX will not only create jobs now, but also well into the future."

LAWA executive director Gina Marie Lindsey had earlier called the deal "a strategic purchase opportunity of a site directly adjacent to LAX."

"It is the last piece of real property not separated from LAX by a major roadway not owned by LAWA," she explained. "Our ability to purchase the property is a unique opportunity."

Two appraisals done for LAWA in February valued the parking at between $108 million and $120 million, the Daily Breeze reported.

Earlier assessments put the value closer to $83 million, according to public records.

The Airport Commission approved the purchase last last month, on the same day it considered a $9.7 million spending cut for day-to-day operations because of a projected $14.7 million drop in operating revenue for the current fiscal year.

The City Council also directed LAWA to prepare a plan to extend the Metro Green Line into the Central Terminal Area at LAX and approved a proposal for American Airlines to relocate a maintenance building to make room for the modernization of the Bradley Terminal.

It also approved a measure to increase the number of holes at the Westchester Golf Course from 15 to 18.

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