California Supreme Court Lets City Go to Trial on Noise Impact Issue

FEBRUARY 24, 1999

The California Supreme Court has upheld a ruling permitting the city of Burbank to argue that terminal expansion at the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport will increase noise in neighborhoods.

Rejecting an appeal by the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, the court affirmed a lower court ruling allowing the city of Burbank to argue that the authority's plans for an expanded terminal will increase noise in residential areas. Under state rules no more than 370 acres around Burbank Airport can fall within the airport's "noise impact area." The impact area is determined by using aircraft noise level measurements in different neighborhoods to arrive at an abstract, statistically based depiction of an area most heavily affected.

In 1997 a Los Angeles Superior Court judge rejected the city of Burbank's claims that the Burbank Airport Authority's proposed 19-gate terminal would increased aircraft noise in adjacent residential areas. A three-judge panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeals, however, reversed the ruling last November, saying that the matter should go back to Los Angeles Superior Court to determine the size of that impact area for this year and future years.

That decision was upheld by the Supreme Court Monday and applauded by Burbank officials, who called the ruling a victory for voters from Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena who set noise limits when the airport was created in 1977. "What this means is that there is a meaningful limit on how much noise this airport can ever produce," said Peter Kirsch, an attorney representing the city of Burbank. "The only issue for trial is whether the airport is exceeding that limit and their own figures show they may have exceeded them already." But airport attorney Richard Simon denies that claim. "The bottom line is very simple," said Simon. "The airport is not in violation of any standard and will not be in violation of any standard based on any aircraft operations."

Source: Los Angeles Times (Metro; Part B; Page 6; Zones Desk)