The Los Angeles City Council approved a $4.76 billion plan last week that moves the northernmost runway at Los Angeles International Airport closer to homes in Westchester and Playa del Rey, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.

The decision is likely to bring lawsuits from environmental advocates and community organizations, who have halted runway expansion plans in the past.

Council members voted 10-4 to approve the proposed improvements and the environmental analysis of the projects, which include terminal additions, a consolidated car rental facility, an elevated people mover and a transportation center with links to light-rail service, according to the report.

The most controversial proposal is the $652 million plan to separate the two northern runways by 260 feet to make room for a center taxiway - an improvement that was added to the southern runway complex several years ago.

Supporters on the council said the modernization projects are needed to provide jobs and turn LAX into a world-class airport capable of handling the largest commercial jets, such as the giant Airbus A380, safely and efficiently. They said the effect of the runway separation would be reduced through mitigation measures and no homes or businesses would have to be condemned.

Los Angeles mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti was among the plan's opponents.

The positions of Dennis Zine, also opposed, who is running for city controller, and Garcetti, a candidate in the May 21 mayoral runoff, could play well in Westchester and Playa del Rey, where there has been substantial resistance to the runway plan. Garcetti's opponent, City Controller Wendy Greuel, has not yet taken a position on the project.

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