Challenge to New Burbank Terminal Would Be Dismissed
in Return for Noise Abatement Studies

JUNE 2, 2000

In a proposed settlement, the city of Los Angeles would drop its environmental challenge to a new terminal at Burbank Airport in return for studies examining ways to curb noise and traffic at the facility. The Los Angeles City Council is set to review the deal in closed session today.

If approved by the city and the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, the deal would require the authority to study how alternative runway use could reduce noise, according to a draft of the proposal.

Easterly takeoffs have been barred at Burbank since 1986 because of the proximity of the runway to the terminal, but many Los Angeles officials say the prohibition saddles city residents with an unfair share of aircraft noise. "Obviously, the No. 1 concern has been noise, even before you talk about a new terminal," said Los Angeles Deputy City Atty. Keith Pritsker, who handles the city's legal issues with Burbank Airport. Pritsker declined to comment on details of the proposed settlement until the council votes on it.

The deal, which would end a legal challenge brought by the city in 1993, also would allow Los Angeles to participate in a study led by the authority on ways to reduce traffic impact at the proposed 14-gate, $300-million terminal. And it would require the airport to seek federal approval for an overnight flight curfew, a move the airport has already agreed to.

Whatever the outcome of the lawsuit, however, the future of the airport's proposed new terminal remains hazy. A draft deal on the controversial project, forged last year between the airport authority and the city of Burbank, recently crumbled. The plan faced opposition from airlines and residents, but its biggest hurdle proved to be the Federal Aviation Administration. FAA chief Jane Garvey said in March that the airport could not impose an overnight curfew without conducting a $4-million federal noise study. More recently, Garvey said while easterly departures could be allowed at a new terminal, they would make up a small fraction of the total daily takeoffs.

In the meantime, the collapse of the terminal deal triggered a process that could lead to the sale of land intended for the facility, a replacement for the current 70-year-old terminal. The city of Burbank now has less than two months to decide whether to buy the land, and whatever property it passes up must be sold to a third party.

Source: Los Angeles Times