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New Burbank Council's Appointee to Commission : Airport Official May Drop Out of Lawsuit

June 06, 1985|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | Times Staff Writer

A newly appointed Burbank Airport official has indicated that she may withdraw as a litigant in a $20-million anti-noise suit against the airport if she is advised to do so by airport attorneys.

Attending her first meeting as a member of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, Margie Gee, former president of the Burbank Anti-Noise Group, a residents' association opposed to aircraft noise, said Monday she would consider withdrawing from a suit filed by 200 San Fernando Valley homeowners two years ago.

Some Members 'Unsympathetic'

Litigants are seeking $200,000 each in damages for alleged jet noise nuisance and losses in property values caused by noise. Action on that suit depends on the outcome of another, similar claim filed against Burbank Airport that seeks damages for noise as a continuing nuisance. That suit was argued before the state Supreme Court last October but a ruling has yet to be rendered.

Gee and Burbank Mayor Mary Lou Howard were appointed to the commission in May by the reconstituted Burbank City Council, replacing two of Burbank's three commissioners. Gee's appointment marks the first time a noise-pollution activist has been named to the authority.

William B. Rudell, former Burbank city attorney who had helped form the authority in 1977, was one of those ousted as a commissioner last month after serving eight years. Rudell, commission president from 1978 to 1984, was known for his outspoken criticism of anti-noise forces.

Gee said that some members of the commission, including Rudell, had been "very unsympathetic" to noise problems. She said anti-noise forces "were treated like lepers and not allowed access to the decision-making going on that affected our lives very much."

Also not reappointed was Ella Lustig, who had served on the board four years.

In an interview, Gee said she expects to use her position on the authority to generate a new cooperation between the airport and residents in resolving problems. For example, she said she intends to propose to the commission some limitations on the number of flights at the airport.

'Matter of Safety'

"It's not just a matter of noise, it's a matter of safety," she said. "We can't just fill the skies with limitless numbers of planes. Even though we are getting the technology for quieter planes, we still have a consistent problem overhead--too many planes."

Howard, who was instrumental in Gee's appointment to the commission, on Monday asked that airport attorneys determine if Gee is eligible to vote on noise matters before the commission in view of her participation in the anti-noise suit. Gee indicated she would rather withdraw from the suit than relinquish her vote on the commission.

At the meeting, Gee and Howard asked several questions about airport policy, indicating they may force the authority, which rarely discusses controversial issues publicly, to begin doing so. They suggested that the authority publish all letters it receives and that the airport staff publicly reply to any questions asked by commissioners.

Gee, who has lived south of the busiest runway at the Burbank airport since 1961, was president of the Burbank Anti-Noise Group for 10 years and is a member of a Valleywide anti-noise coalition. "I didn't come from nowhere," she told commissioners. "I have been around."

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