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'No-Fly' Concept Doesn't Fly

September 09, 1993

* Greed has its benefits and consequences. Or so it seems after reading that lawyer John Alan Cohan requested the Federal Aviation Administration to designate Benedict Canyon a "noise-sensitive, no-fly zone" (July 10). Until now the only prohibited residential zones have been those over the homes of United States Presidents.

Understandably, residents of Benedict Canyon, about five miles from Burbank and Van Nuys runways, want to maintain already high property values. Being under a restricted, stay-out airspace clearly enhances value, like being in a three-dimensional gated community.

By presenting its case any neighborhood could be so designated. Fortunately, the FAA holds safety, not noise, as a primary responsibility. They separate planes from each other--not planes from houses. Thus, they are unlikely to approve Cohan's request.

Pilots departing from Burbank and Van Nuys overfly houses in all directions. If this goes through they will be burdened with no-fly tracts not easily identified from the air. In the L. A. Basin pilots are already severely restricted in altitude and direction they can fly. Compressing flyable airspace further would hardly maintain safety levels.

No evidence exists showing that canyon owners and agents are disclosing airport noise problems to prospective buyers, lessees and renters as required by California law.

Overlooked also is the fact that local airports may have prescriptive easements to use airspace over Benedict Canyon. This gives a "right to interfere with a resident's use and enjoyment of their property."

Moreover, calling this area a "no-fly" zone may contradict another federal law and therefore be unenforceable. This law says the pilot has sole authority to determine if compliance with noise restrictions produces a hazard to landing, taking off, or maneuvering of an aircraft at Van Nuys or Burbank airports.

Attorney Cohan would protect his house price tag by reducing the usefulness of local airports. Let him show the same zeal in protecting the unwary house buyer or renter. By demanding that they sign off before escrow closes or before accepting a lease or rental agreement that they are aware the property is close to busy airports and that they understand the impact this may have on value, liability and suitability for residential use as a result of aircraft noise and crash potential.

DON DUFFORD

Burbank

Dufford is chairman of the Land Use Committee of the Burbank Airport Assn.

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