Conceding that $24 a day was "overkill" and had driven motorists away, the Burbank Airport Authority has voted to cut the controversial new fee for use of a four-story parking structure to a maximum of $18 a day. The authority also will advertise that parking in the structure may save money for short-term visitors.
Commissioner Leland C. Ayers complained to fellow members of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority at their meeting Monday that a steep increase in the parking fee imposed five weeks ago caused motorists to avoid the building, leaving it almost empty.
"We have 400 spaces in a concrete structure that aren't being used," he said.
The fee had been raised from a maximum of $8 a day in order to channel long-term parking into the neighboring lots at the airport or into satellite lots nearby and preserve the structure for short-term use. There had been complaints that those delivering or picking up passengers at the airport could not find parking spaces.
Monday's vote left intact the $1-an-hour fee for the parking structure, which had been set to discourage airline passengers from leaving their cars there overnight or for days at a time.
The fee for parking in the lots that flank the building was set at $2 an hour up to a maximum of $8 a day. Satellite lots, which provide bus transportation to the airport, charge $4 daily.
Parking-fee collectors said that, since the new fee went into effect Sept. 27, they have had several bitter confrontations with angry patrons who said they did not notice the rate change. Some travelers returned after a three-day trip to find their parking fee was more than $70.
The new fee structure not only discouraged long-term use, it also drove away the short-term visitors it was meant to attract, said Thomas E. Greer, director of airport services.
'Scared Them Away'
"We overkilled," he told the board, in part because the airport did not put enough emphasis, in its informational signs, on the $1-an-hour rate. "We scared them away."
Greer said short-term visitors now pay $2 for in-and-out stopovers in one of the adjoining lots, when it would cost them only $1 to use the structure. For any period under eight hours, the parking structure is less expensive than the parking lots.
Greer said that motorists who use the more expensive lots for short stays will be given an information sheet when they leave, pointing out that they could have saved money by using the structure.
The rate change will go into effect as soon as new signs can be painted, which will take about two weeks, an airport spokeswoman said.