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Pair Urging L.A. Voice on Airport Board

Aviation: City Council members Greuel and LaBonge seek their colleagues' backing for a representative on the Burbank panel.

June 20, 2002|ANDREA PERERA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel says it's only fair that Los Angeles residents contending with airplane noise from Burbank Airport get a representative on the airport's governing board.

With that in mind, Greuel and Councilman Tom LaBonge have introduced a motion before the Los Angeles City Council seeking support to pursue the proposal before the nine-member Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority.

"The residents of the city of Los Angeles have a lot to say about what happens in the airport," Greuel said. "[They] talk a lot about the flight patterns coming over their neighborhoods."

The issue has come up before but has not gone far. In 1987, a Los Angeles council committee opposed joining the Airport Authority based on a recommendation from the city's chief legislative analyst, who said that if the city joined the panel it could be held responsible for the authority's debts or losses.

Greuel said the proposal is worthwhile despite past failures. She said she has heard from numerous San Fernando Valley residents frustrated by the noise of jets taking off over their neighborhoods. If Los Angeles residents in neighborhoods such as North Hollywood, Studio City and Sherman Oaks have to endure that type of daily disruption, Greuel said, they should also have a hand in shaping the airport's operations.

And just being able to speak up at an authority meeting is not enough, she said. "Of course, there's an open, public process, but decisions are made by the authority. This is about having a say at the table."

The Airport Authority is made up of nine commissioners--three each from Burbank, Pasadena and Glendale. The airport serves about 4.5 million travelers annually.

Several of the authority's members say they are undecided on whether Los Angeles should be represented on the panel but are willing to listen to Greuel and LaBonge.

Some members said they might be hesitant to change anything because of the possibility the Valley may secede from Los Angeles, changing the area's political makeup.

"When the temperature comes down and the issues of seceding from Los Angeles are in the history books, then I think we're probably in a better place to begin this dialogue," said Chris Holden, a Pasadena councilman and authority president.

Carl Meseck, an authority commissioner from Glendale, agreed.

"I don't think we're at a point where we can even discuss that. It's related to the Valley and Valleyhood issues," he said. "They need to resolve that first; then probably we're in a different position."

John Crowley, an airport commissioner from Pasadena, said he wondered why Los Angeles would now want to be a member, considering that years ago the city decided against it.

"The city of Los Angeles people should be telling us why they feel their voice should be heard now, when they had the opportunity before and rejected it," Crowley said.

Charlie Lombardo, a Burbank commissioner, said he can't predict how a Los Angeles resident might affect the authority's decisions because Greuel and LaBonge have yet to clarify why they want a Los Angeles resident to join the authority.

"There's not a whole lot of detail in what they requested," Lombardo said.

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