Two noise control measures backed by the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners for Van Nuys Airport will either deal with the problem of aircraft noise in surrounding neighborhoods or lead to a messy court fight with pilots, airport businesses and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Those were the conflicting assessments made Tuesday by airport officials, neighbors and FAA representatives after the commission's decision Monday to support two noise control measures for the airport--the largest general aviation facility in the nation.
The first plan--which the board adopted, but requires FAA approval--was developed over the past 3 1/2 years by an advisory panel of residents, pilots and airport officials. It would extend a nightly curfew by one hour, encourage pilots to reduce thrust on takeoff and add a noise-abatement officer to the airport staff.
The second plan--which the board endorsed--asks the City Council to adopt an ordinance that would ban the noisiest jets from the airport, phasing in the restrictions over a six-year period. Airport officials estimate that nearly half of the 90 jets now based at the airport would be banned by the time the ordinance was fully in effect.
The decision to back both came during an often emotional two-hour meeting at Airtel Plaza Hotel attended by about 240 residents and representatives of state Sen. Herschel Rosenthal (D-Los Angeles), Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Panorama City), Assemblyman Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica) and City Councilman Marvin Braude.
Assemblyman Terry B. Friedman (D-Encino) and Assemblywoman Barbara Friedman (D-Los Angeles) attended the meeting.
All the elected officials urged the commission to support both measures.
But the commission's decision flew in the face of recommendations by Carl B. Schellenberg, the FAA's regional administrator, and Clifton A. Moore, executive director of the city's Department of Airports.
In a letter to Moore, Schellenberg said that the FAA would not support the jet-banning ordinance until the airport completes a study on the economic effects the ordinance would have on airport businesses. Moore recommended that the commission take no action on the jet ordinance until the FAA's concerns are addressed.
Members of the advisory panel--known as the Part 150 Committee, a name taken from the number of the FAA regulation governing local noise control efforts--said they were disappointed with the commission's decision.
Don Schultz, a committee member and president of the Van Nuys Homeowners Assn., said he fears that the jet ordinance will draw the FAA's wrath and ruin the airport's chances of getting the FAA to pay for noise-monitoring equipment needed to implement the advisory panel's noise-control plan.
"If it goes through, we have wasted three years of noise study," he said.
Sandor Winger, chairman of the committee, agreed. "The bottom line . . . is that the efforts of nearly 1,000 hours of work were totally ignored," he said.
Will Ross, another member of the committee and an airport neighbor, called the decision "shortsighted."
"I'm very surprised because I think they took the easy way out," he said.
Maurice Laham, the airport department environment manager and chairman of the committee's technical panel, told residents after the meeting that "the Part 150 is dead."
Phil Berg, a member of the Van Nuys Airport Tenants Assn., said the proposed jet ordinance would very likely draw a lawsuit from some airport tenant whose business would suffer under the regulation, or from the FAA, which would argue that the airport failed to study the economic effects of the ordinance.
Either way, he said, "it puts everybody back in limbo."
But several homeowner groups and elected officials rejected concerns of a lawsuit, saying the jet ordinance would ease the growing problem of aircraft noise in surrounding communities.
"W\o7 e\f7 are very pleased that they took the action," said Peter Ireland, a member of the West Van Nuys Homeowners Assn. "Truthfully, we didn't think we would prevail."
Gerald A. Silver, long an outspoken critic of the airport and president of Homeowners of Encino, said the concerns raised by opponents of the jet ordinance are a "smoke screen" by airport supporters.
Before voting for the jet ordinance, commission President Robert Chick--the ordinance's author--said he was aware of the FAA's opposition but believed the ordinance would be effective without hurting airport businesses.
"I would hate to see jobs lost in the Valley because of the regulation," he said. "But I don't believe that will happen."
Commissioner Johnny L. Cochran, however, said he expected a lawsuit. "Although we don't like to be sued, we will probably be sued by someone for taking this stand," he said.