My landlord, a retired Navy captain, hasn’t once tried to raise the rent on my charming little beach shack since the economic downturn began. I am lucky.
The U.S. Coast Guard, however, isn’t so lucky. Its lease at LAX is up at the end of the year, and airport officials have expressed plans to raise the rent. Like the rest of us penny pinchers, the Coast Guard is now looking for a better deal.
It’s a search that has led it to the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base, among other Southern California locations.
“It’s not a 100 percent that we are relocating as of yet,” said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Adam Eggers, a Coast Guard spokesman. “We are looking into different locations should LAX no longer be available to us.”
Like most house hunters, the coast guard is looking for room to spread out (about 100 people work at the station), and an ocean breeze would be nice.
“Basically, we have to have enough room for our operations, and we don’t want to increase the amount of time it takes to get to the water,” said Eggers.
Base officials confirmed that Los Alamitos is on the list but cautioned that it is far from a done deal.
“At this point, the Coast Guard is considering alternatives to LAX, and JFTB is just one of many options they may consider,” said Lt. Jan Bender, spokesman for the Los Alamitos base. “However, nothing tangible has been set in motion with environmental studies or by any other means.”
If the Coast Guard does shift its operations to Los Alamitos, it would be big news. The Coast Guard would be a prestigious tenant in that it would add to the base’s military and community value.
Already the base is where Air Force One sometimes lands, where soldiers in the California National Guard train and deploy from, where the coffins of fallen soldiers arrive home from the front to be honored in “hero missions,” and where authorities set up command centers for emergencies such as the L.A. riots.
The Coast Guard’s air station at LAX plays an important role in homeland security. The station’s three helicopters patrol the coast from the southern tip of Orange County up to the Moro Bay. They also help with search and rescue missions more than days out of the year, and they protect the ports.
Before anyone could throw a house-warming party, environmental reviews would need to be done to assess impacts such as noise on the surrounding neighborhood.
“The city has always been supportive of military uses at the base,” said Los Alamitos City Manager Jeff Stewart. “Noise would be the one concern, but I get very few complaints on helicopter noise.”
As a base tenants, the Coast Guard helicopters would likely have the most significant impact on residents in Seal Beach’s College Park East neighborhood, added Stewart.