Disappointed homeowner groups on Wednesday rued the appointment of Brian Bowman to the Burbank Airport Authority, contending that Bowman, a small-plane pilot and businessman who ran unsuccessfully for Burbank City Council last year, does not share their anti-noise bent.
Some also argued that Bowman, whose plastics firm sits two blocks east of the airport, has a financial interest in blocking takeoffs to the east--a key demand of homeowners incensed by the whine of aircraft engines over more populated areas.
"I think it's going to be difficult for him to vote against his own pocketbook," said Dan Shapiro, president of Studio City Residents Assn. "His appointment has created an unfortunate conflict that will color his decisions."
The Burbank City Council named Bowman to the post Tuesday night. Each city that is a member of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority appoints three commissioners.
Bowman, 49, will fill the seat vacated by Margie Gee, an anti-noise crusader from Burbank who was ousted July 29 after the council decided that her combative manner had diluted Burbank's influence on the airport authority.
Conflict of Interest Cited
Gee also came under fire after state and authority attorneys concluded that she held a possible conflict of interest because she is a plaintiff in a noise lawsuit against the authority, placing her in the position of suing an agency of which she was a director and limiting her participation on the commission.
"I have confidence in Bowman as being a person of good faith and fair dealing, but I don't think they solved the Margie Gee problem with this appointment," Shapiro said in a reference to the earlier conflict-of-interest dispute.
Bowman, president of Ryan Herco Products Corp., a wholesaler of industrial pipes and valves, said his half ownership in the company and 6% interest in the building will not figure into decisions on shifting traffic between the airport's two runways.
"If I owned the building I might be more concerned about property values," Bowman said in an interview. "I'm going to be fair about all my decisions."
Burbank authorities in March barred airline pilots from taking off to the east. The move was ordered by the Federal Aviation Administration because the airport terminal at some points is less than half the safety zone of 750 feet from the runways. The ban is expected to remain in force until a new terminal is built in about five years.
The anti-noise groups want easterly takeoffs to resume as soon as possible.
Gee Credentials Praised
Spokesmen for the residents' groups criticized the Burbank council for appointing a commissioner without anti-noise credentials such as Gee's. Gee was the only such activist ever appointed to the nine-member airport panel, and earned a reputation as a passionate dissenter.
"They've appointed someone who will be more cooperative with airport expansion and increasing the number of flights," said Richard H. Close, president of Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn.
"His first concern won't be those who live near the airport. The signal in his appointment is that Burbank is moving away from noise control," Close maintained.
Gee called Bowman a "capable man" who is allied with members of the airport authority and City Council who favor expanded airline flights.
"It's absolutely a slap in the face to the residents affected by the airport," Gee said. "He'll fit in very well with the current authority."
For his part, Bowman recalled the jarring roar of jet engines over his business and said he will work to see noise reduced by continuing the transition to quieter jets and steep, noise-abatement takeoffs.
He cautioned, however, that "noise is inherent in any kind of transportation. We all need to move from place to place."
"I may not be their knight in shining armor, but I don't intend to behave in a manner that would cause them to say I don't have a concern for the noise problem," he said of the homeowner groups.
Bowman said he flies single-engine Piper Archers and Dakotas on business trips from Burbank Airport to San Diego, Phoenix and other cities in the West. He said his piloting experience lends itself to a special interest in issues of general aviation and flight safety.
For example, he said he favors airport design plans that would permit light airplanes to drop off passengers near the commercial air terminal, not in separate charter terminals as is now done.