Steve Kuykendall is a Marine veteran who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1999 to 2001 representing California’s 36th Congressional District. He is a candidate for Congress for the newly created 47th Congressional District.
With unemployment in Long Beach area well into double digits, the last thing we can afford is the loss of the Joint Forces Training Base at Los Alamitos. Yet this is a very real possibility. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta wants to revive BRAC, Base Realignment and Closure; and when that happens, it may be too late. We must act now to save our base and the thousands of civilian and military jobs it supports.
The Joint Forces Training Base (JFTB) in Los Alamitos houses units of the California National Guard and Army Reserve. It is also home to the Southern California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. More than 45 tenant organizations call the post home, some 700 people — military, civilian employees and contractors — work at JFTB Los Alamitos. Many local businesses provide services to these employees. If all the reserve component units assigned to the base were mobilized, some 5,000 people — military and civilian — would report for duty.
And, even more important, JTFB Los Alamitos is home to the sole remaining military airfield in the greater Los Angeles and Orange County area capable of handling any aircraft in our inventory and providing adequate staging areas for movement of personnel and materials into and out of the area. These efforts could be in support of deployments of forces overseas or local disaster relief efforts in the case of major earthquake of other catastrophe. Although their primary job is handling the variety of military aircraft that use the base itself, they also could handle commercial traffic in the immediate area should an alternate field be necessary in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster effect one of our civilian airfields.
As a Congressman, I helped craft a plan that saved the Los Angeles Air Force Base (LAAFB)-saving countless local jobs and businesses. I accomplished this by authoring a provision in a defense authorization bill that allowed an active military base to swap surplus land for new structures on the site it retained, making them a better steward of their assets and keeping LAAFB off the BRAC closure list. Similar action is needed to increase the value of the base and reduce operating expenses, if we are to save JTFB Los Alamitos from the next round of closures.
First, we need to explore the possibility of utilizing a land swap option similar to the plan that saved LAAFB. The JTFB Alamitos is sited on very valuable land. Some of this land could be swapped to the private sector in exchange for building new facilities on the base. We need to determine which perimeter pieces of land would be good candidates for this type of exchange. Second, we should determine which local National Guard Armories and Army/Navy/Marine Reserve centers in Los Angeles and Orange counties are suitable for civilian redevelopment. Appropriate sites could then be swapped to private developers in exchange for them building new military facilities on the JFTB to house units displaced by the land swap. The armory and reserve center sites are then developed to met local needs i.e. retails centers, housing, commercial uses, etc. and return the property to the property tax role increasing local tax receipts and creating civilian construction jobs, not to mention any employees needed in the new business locations.
In addition, where appropriate, add enterprise zone and/or foreign trade zone designations to these former military sites to increase the value and job creation potential of military sites swapped for civilian use. The taxpayer already owns the military sites. Land swaps allow the military to convert an underutilized piece of real estate with the ongoing operating costs to new modern military facilities, saving taxpayers millions of dollars for construction and site operations. Moreover, returning these properties to local property tax rolls will create new revenues for cash-strapped local communities. It’s a win-win for the American taxpayer in general and specifically the local economies of Long Beach and Orange County.
File photo by C.E.H. Wiedel of the front gate of Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base.
- Los Alamitos leaders recognized as VIPS at JFTB deployment ceremony (oc-breeze.com)
- CA National Guardsmen to fly out of JFTB Thursday morning (oc-breeze.com)
- Max Muscle of Los Alamitos leads physical training, nutrition classes for JFTB aerial surveillance platoon (oc-breeze.com)
- CA Army National Guard unit to deploy to Kuwait from JFTB (oc-breeze.com)
- Public invited to retirement ceremony for JFTB soldiers (oc-breeze.com)
- Secretary of Defense Panetta to ask Congress to restart base closures (oc-breeze.com)