Judge Upholds Rule Limiting Noisy Jets at Van Nuys

JUNE 12, 2001

A federal judge said Monday that he intends to deny part of a lawsuit challenging the "non-addition" rule that limits noisy jets at Van Nuys Airport.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson said he will issue an order soon explaining his reason for denying the aviation companies' motion that the regulation violates the 14th Amendment's equal protection guarantee. [See order.]

The lawsuit, brought by five aviation companies at the airport and the National Business Aviation Association Inc., challenges the constitutionality of the city's limit on stage-2 jets.

The judge is expected to consider two additional elements in the lawsuit and decide whether the case should go to trial. In those elements, lawyers for the aviation businesses argue that the city's rule is pre-empted by federal law and that limiting older jets can hurt business at the airport and cost people their jobs.

"We argue that you will have an economic impact on companies in operation at the airport that charter these aircraft who will be precluded from adding additional aircraft," said Andrew Plumb, a Washington, D.C., attorney representing the plaintiffs.

In April 2000 the Los Angeles City Council took a step toward controlling noise at the airport by voting to ban the addition of any more stage-2 jets and to pursue the phase-out of such aircraft. The limits prevent all but about 50 of the older jets from being based at the airport after 2011.

"Our regulation attacks only the loudest planes in America that are stage 2," said Breton Lobner, senior counsel for Los Angeles World Airports. "The rest we are leaving alone." If the regulation doesn't work, Lobner said the final part of the city's plan is to phase out the older jets.

Gerald Silver, president of Homeowners of Encino and the Stop the Noise coalition, said the city's action hasn't reduced noise in neighborhoods near the airport. He said the only way to reduce the noise is to phase out the older jets. Silver said the aviation businesses' lawsuit is a "smoke screen and delaying tactic" designed to prevent the city's Airport Commission from voting on the phase-out rule.

"Instead of waiting around for the City Council and Board of Airport Commissioners to vote on a phase-out, they are going on the offensive and putting the fear of God into the city by saying the nonaddition rule is illegal and you have to defend that," Silver said. "You will have to go to court and meanwhile the City Council and airport commissioners will get cold feet on what they promised to do."

Source: Los Angeles Daily News