Plan for 'Shared' Burbank Airport Noise Splits Panel

October 16, 1986|DOUG SMITH | Times Staff Writer

A committee studying airplane noise around Burbank Airport struggled unsuccessfully last week to reach a decision on a plan to make residents east of the airport "share" its noise with residents in areas now under the primary takeoff pattern.

But two hours of sometimes strident debate on the plan Friday showed that the committee of local, state and federal officials--set up as part of a Federal Aviation Administration noise study--is strongly divided along geographical lines.

Representatives from Burbank and Glendale argued against the plan, which would have as many as 40% of the commercial flights take off eastward, possibly affecting neighborhoods in their cities, which now experience little aircraft noise.

But representatives from areas south and west of the airport, which now experience the most airport noise, argued for the plan.

At one time, members of the committee hoped to make a consensus recommendation on the plan to the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, which would then decide whether to make it part of an anti-noise proposal that it will send to the FAA.

2 Reports Expected

After Friday's discussion, however, several members said it appears that majority and minority reports will be filed instead.

Officials of Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport pressed for a quick decision on the plan, which was proposed by east San Fernando Valley homeowner associations as a way to spread the burden of aircraft noise.

Richard Vacar, manager of airport affairs, said he wants to settle the complicated question of eastward takeoffs as soon as possible because other anti-noise measures under consideration hinge on how noise will be distributed.

"It's not practical for the study to continue without having a decision on runway use," Vacar said. "Until I have that, we're really in a hold posture. There are people losing interest in the study because nothing is going on."

The committee's acting chairman, Lindy Graham, an administrative aide to Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Panorama City), said a decision could be reached by the end of the month.

Technically Complex

The debate over the noise-sharing plan has proved as technically complex as it is politically sensitive.

Almost all flights now take off to the south, over North Hollywood and Studio City. The Federal Aviation Administration has prohibited jets from taking off toward the east because the terminal building is so close to the east-west runway.

But the FAA and the Air Transport Assn. have agreed that as many as 40% of commercial flights could take off to the east as soon as a new terminal is completed.

East Valley homeowner groups are lobbying for that.

They contend that the eastward flight path would cross over mostly industrial areas in the early, noisiest, stage of ascent and would also spread the noise burden to parts of Burbank and Glendale. Residents in those communities, they say, then might put political pressure on the three-city authority to limit flights.

Already beset by jurisdictional and political complexities, the debate became even more clouded recently when a consultant released data suggesting that the noise-sharing plan would not benefit east San Fernando Valley residents as much as they hoped.

Future Problems

The problem is that planes taking off to the east will eventually be routed over the North Hollywood area anyway. The FAA prohibits the planes from continuing east because they would come too close to planes landing at Los Angeles International Airport.

Data recently produced by the consultant, Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co., showed that the noise-sharing plan would only slightly reduce the noise-impact area south of the airport, while dramatically expanding it to the east, Vacar said.

Those findings are outlined in maps projecting the area around the airport that would exceed the state noise standard. In making the noise maps, the consultant assumed that there would be an average of 75 flights a day--a slight increase from the current level--but that the mix of airplanes would be quieter than those in service today, Vacar said.

Under current runway use, with most takeoffs occurring to the south, then turning west and north, the area of excessive noise bulges south from the airport almost to Burbank Boulevard.

The noise-impact area consists of 383 acres, 109 in Los Angeles and 274 in Burbank, an area in which about 6,100 people live.

New Noise Bulge

Shifting some takeoffs to the east would shrink the southern bulge only slightly but create a new bulge to the east, the consultants said.

Although about half of that bulge would be over industrial and commercial areas, it would also cover a Burbank residential area east of the airport that now is not subject to excessive noise.

The change, according to figures supplied with the maps, would reduce the noise area to 61 acres in Los Angeles but would increase it to 297 acres in Burbank, a total reduction of only 25 acres.

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