YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Los Angeles

Airport Issue Lures Burbank Officials to Glendale Meeting

Councilman and vice mayor go before neighboring council to decry a decision to give up on moving terminal.

November 21, 2002|Caitlin Liu | Times Staff Writer

Burbank Airport officials had just completed a presentation to the Glendale City Council on their decision to scrap a decades-old plan to move the airport's passenger terminal when they were followed at the podium by two surprise guests.

Burbank City Councilman Dave Golonski and Vice Mayor Stacey Murphy, both of whom slipped out of their own council meeting minutes earlier, took turns at the podium blasting the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority for its "irresponsible decision."

They also criticized the authority for trying to sell or lease the land designated for the replacement terminal. They asked the Glendale council for help in resurrecting the relocation plan, which they hope would ultimately reduce noise for the airport's neighbors.

The visit by Golonski and Murphy stunned and angered airport authority officials, who had just finished explaining their reasons for abandoning the terminal relocation plan.

"We were scheduled to give our presentation," authority President Chris Holden said. "They decided to hijack it."

Holden and other airport officials said that continuing the fight for a replacement terminal would be futile because of Burbank's hostile political climate. The authority voted 5 to 4 earlier this month to drop its plans for similar reasons.

"We're tired of banging our heads against the wall," Holden said.

The only way the authority would resume efforts to relocate the terminal would be if the Federal Aviation Administration forced it to do so for safety reasons, Holden said. Portions of the current terminal, built more than 70 years ago, are 350 feet closer to the runway than what is permitted by modern airport construction standards.

But Burbank Airport officials contend that the terminal is safe and have asked the FAA to render an opinion to help resolve the issue. An FAA spokesman said the agency might have an answer by the end of the year.

Like Burbank and Pasadena, Glendale cannot veto the airport authority's decision but has the power to appoint or fire commissioners. Two of Glendale's three commissioners voted in favor of dropping future terminal relocation efforts. Burbank's three representatives voted against it.

As a result, Burbank officials said they want to be sure the Glendale City Council hears their concerns regarding the airport authority's action. They said they would prefer that local officials resolve the issue, rather than the federal government.

Burbank officials believe that the FAA would be more likely to permit nighttime flight curfews if a new and safer terminal were built. Local residents have long demanded curfews as a way to reduce airport noise.

But airport officials are not convinced that a new terminal would affect a federal decision over flight curfews. The airport authority is continuing a $4.2-million study, required by federal law, that is analyzing the benefits and costs of flight restrictions, Holden said.

The study must be completed before flight curfews can be considered, federal officials said.

After speaking before the Glendale council, Golonski and Murphy returned to the Burbank council meeting, where they informed their colleagues and constituents about their actions.

But not all Burbank residents appreciated their lobbying efforts for a new passenger terminal, which some fear would only lead to airport expansion.

"Who are they speaking for?" said David Piroli, who attended the council's meeting. "We don't want a new terminal."

Fellow resident Dan Elsmore said the airport authority was smart to recognize the intense public opposition to moving the terminal.

"Why the city thinks it will be a bargaining chip [for curfews] is a mystery," he said. "That's not the way the FAA works."

Los Angeles Times Articles