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Propeller-Only Area Proposed at Airport

February 06, 2003|Karima A. Haynes | Times Staff Writer

A Van Nuys Airport advisory panel has approved a compromise plan that would designate a portion of airport land for the exclusive use of propeller-driven aircraft, officials said Wednesday.

By setting aside the land, the Van Nuys Airport Citizens Advisory Council hopes to appease propeller-driven aircraft owners, private jet operators and neighbors whose competing interests have stymied the development of an airport master plan for more than a decade, officials said.

The advisory panel, which approved the compromise plan on a vote of 10 to 2 on Tuesday night, recommended that the proposal be included in the final airport master plan.

In developing the compromise, Citizens Advisory Council President Coby King said that in the last two decades the airport has been transformed from a facility dominated by propeller aircraft to one primarily serving private jets whose owners can afford to pay higher lease rates.

Economic forces that push lease costs to unaffordable levels are driving out owners and operators of propeller-driven aircraft, King said in the proposal.

By creating a new land-use designation, called "aviation area -- propeller aircraft," and applying the designation to certain parcels, King said lease rates could be held to levels affordable to propeller aircraft operators.

Under the proposal, the panel recommends that 35 acres of airport land receive the new designation.

The land would consist of two parcels: a larger one on the airport's western edge along Balboa Boulevard between Lanark and Stagg streets and a smaller strip on the northeast side along Waterman Drive off Woodley Avenue.

The Balboa Boulevard parcel abuts a neighborhood whose residents have complained for years about roaring jets. King said the propeller-aircraft-only designation should significantly reduce noise.

"I think the vote shows that a compromise by all the interested stakeholders in the future of the airport is possible," King said Wednesday.

"The vote also shows that everyone wants the master plan to move forward and to put in place one that protects the operators of propeller planes while respecting the legitimate interests of jet operators and residents alike," he added.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter urged airport stakeholders to continue their work to develop a mutually acceptable master plan for Van Nuys Airport.

"All master plans generate disagreement and controversy, as there is no way to resolve conflicting agendas to the complete satisfaction of everyone involved," said Galanter, who sits on a council committee that oversees airport issues. "However, the absence of perfect harmony is no excuse for avoiding the hard work necessary to ... move the master plan forward."

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