BURBANK — A residents' group said Tuesday that it had gathered enough signatures to stall plans for a new $300-million Burbank Airport terminal by forcing a citywide vote on the project.
The group--Restore Our Airport Rights, or ROAR--said it submitted 7,400 signatures to the Burbank city clerk Tuesday. If the measure qualifies for the ballot and is approved by voters, it would bar the City Council from approving a terminal exceeding 200,000 square feet.
Airport officials want to build a 330,000-square-foot terminal to better meet passenger demand. The existing 170,000-square-foot terminal is too close to the east-west runway to meet modern standards.
In addition to limiting the size of the terminal, the initiative would require a mandatory 10 p.m.-to-7 a.m. curfew and 10% cap on future flights and passengers.
Former Burbank City Councilman Ted McConkey, a ROAR leader, said the initiative was necessary to keep a lid on aircraft noise and growth at Burbank Airport, which is used annually by 4.7 million passengers primarily in northern Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
"This is a small regional airport that serves local residents," McConkey said. "It's not designed to be a dumping ground for overcrowded airports in other parts of the region. We want to keep this airport for its intended purpose."
To qualify for the city's next scheduled election, in February, the group needs at least 5,214 signatures--10% of Burbank's registered voters.
About a dozen people joined McConkey in submitting the petitions Tuesday afternoon.
"The City Council is swayed by petitions, whether it's from neighborhoods or homeowners," said Kevin Muldoon, 41, of Burbank. "If this initiative isn't a referendum for the City Council to change its ways, then nothing is."
ROAR volunteers said about 100 people participated in the signature drive. They targeted neighborhoods south of the airport, under the main takeoff route, and also gathered signatures at supermarkets and retail stores.
If passed, the initiative could kill a pending agreement for a $300-million, 14-gate terminal, which has yet to be approved by the Burbank City Council.
Burbank Mayor Stacey Murphy said she would not directly comment on the initiative but noted that she was still hopeful the city and airport could reach an amicable deal for a new terminal.
"This is the first time that all sides in this controversy have been willing to sit down together and hammer out a resolution," Murphy said. "We are going to continue to try to do that."
In a statement, Burbank City Manager Robert R. "Bud" Ovrom said he believed that the initiative was "legally flawed" but did not detail any specific shortcomings.
"Initiative petitions written by lay people are very frequently overturned in court," he said.
Ovrom said city officials will meet with Federal Aviation Administration Director Jane Garvey on April 7 in an effort to revive stalled negotiations on the terminal.
Airport officials also declined to comment.
The terminal deal negotiated last year contained controversial provisions--including closing the terminal building from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., linking expansion to a mandatory overnight curfew, paying $1.5 million in annual airport revenues to the city of Burbank and making permanent an existing ban on easterly takeoffs.
Among those attacking various provisions were airlines, Los Angeles residents and elected officials.
Burbank suspended further negotiations last month, citing mixed signals on the plan from the FAA.
ROAR began collecting signatures in October, two months after city and airport negotiators signed a draft agreement to relocate the existing 1930s' terminal.