City Asks Court to Clarify Obligation to Enforce Local Initiative Limiting Airport Noise

OCTOBER 17, 2001

The city of Burbank filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority over a new law intended to limit noise and expansion at Burbank Airport by limiting flights and imposing an overnight curfew.

The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court seeks a ruling on whether the city can legally enforce Measure A, which was approved last week by 58% of Burbank voters.

"The city is required to enforce the new law but is prohibited from enforcing a law that is not legal," said Peter Kirsch, attorney for the city on airport matters. "The city needed to know how to act on this." Burbank officials contend the measure contains terms and requirements that may violate state and local law and the California Constitution, thereby putting the city in an "impossible position."

The city is obliged to enforce the measure passed Oct. 9 in its first all mail-in election, but attorneys for the city have argued it is illegal, said City Manager Bud Ovrom. "The city is caught between a rock and a hard spot," Ovrom said, adding that Burbank officials cannot pick and choose which elements to enforce. "The only entity that can clarify this is the courts."

Burbank officials said they decided to sue the airport authority, which had no role in placing the measure on the ballot, because it would be most affected by any enforcement. Airport officials declined to comment Tuesday, saying they had not seen a copy of the lawsuit.

Under Measure A, the Burbank City Council is not allowed to approve any construction or renovation of the airport unless a series of conditions are met, including imposing the flight caps and a curfew and requiring the airport to prepare an environmental impact report and a master plan.

It prohibits the airport from adding new runways or lengthening existing ones, and it requires approval by two-thirds of Burbank voters before a new terminal may be built.