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L.A. School District Files Lawsuit Over Air Terminal Plan


The Los Angeles Unified School District filed suit in Superior Court on Wednesday, challenging plans for a new $200-million terminal at Burbank Airport.

The lawsuit, expected to be followed with similar action by the city of Los Angeles on Friday, contends that the environmental impact report for the new terminal is inadequate because it fails to consider noise that will be caused by a doubling of airport traffic.

District spokeswoman Diana Munatones said the suit asks for a court order requiring the airport to provide mitigation, such as sound-proofing for several East Valley schools near the airport.

Los Angeles Deputy City Atty. Keith Pritsker said the city intended to file its suit at the same time as the district, but was delayed by staff shortage and the need for legal research to be sure the city's position does not conflict with its own interest as owner of several airports.

Pritsker said his suit will go further than the district's, asking for the environmental report to consider the effects of the airport expansion on local traffic patterns.

The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority voted unanimously March 26 to build a new 670,000-square-foot terminal, nearly four times the size of the current one. The Airport Authority is under pressure from the Federal Aviation Administration to replace the existing terminal, which opened in 1930, because it is closer to the runway than modern safety regulations allow.

The airport's consultant has projected that the number of passengers using the facility annually will double by the year 2005 and double again by 2015.

Victor Gill, spokesman for the Airport Authority, said the environmental impact report failed to provide for noise and traffic mitigation because the anticipated growth will not be caused by the terminal replacement. The airport will get busier, Gill said, whether the terminal is expanded or not.

"The market demand is the causal factor," he said. "Any noise in the future is not a function of the terminal."

"I think that's an outrageous argument," Pritsker countered. "The fact that they make a nicer facility, that has no bearing on the number of planes, the amount of noise, the amount of traffic on local streets?"

Attorney Bradley R. Hogin of the law firm Baker and Hostetler, which filed the suit for the district, was not available for comment.

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