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Airport, Burbank Reach Deal on Growth

Proposed pact would ban a new terminal for 10 years. Facility to buy a rival parking lot.

June 24, 2004|Caitlin Liu | Times Staff Writer

Declaring a "cease fire" and the dawn of a new era of cooperation, officials at Bob Hope Airport and in Burbank, who have long fought over expansion issues, have reached a tentative agreement that would place a 10-year moratorium on building a new terminal.

In a related deal that would end a crippling parking price war, airport commissioners announced Wednesday their intention to buy Star Park, a 2,200-space lot near the terminal, for $41.5 million.

Cutthroat parking prices have caused the airport and the private parking operator to bleed millions of dollars in red ink. Numerous lawsuits between the airport and Burbank in the past decade also have drained them of more than $20 million collectively.

"Everyone was getting hurt. The city was. The airport was. [Star Park] was," said Charles Lombardo, president of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority. "It's a nice time to put some of the divisiveness in the past. Hopefully this is now a win-win-win situation."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday June 27, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 63 words Type of Material: Correction
Airport parking -- An article in Thursday's California section about a proposal by Burbank's Bob Hope Airport to buy the Star Park parking lot said Star Park is a 2,200-space lot. It has 2,060 spaces. The article also said the purchase of Star Park would leave the total airport-owned parking unchanged at about 5,500 spaces. Airport parking would increase by an undetermined amount.

The purchase of Star Park, which requires approval by the Burbank City Council, would leave the total airport-owned parking unchanged, at about 5,500 short- and long-term spaces. The authority plans to use the Star Park lot for the airport's valet parking and to consolidate rental car operations.

But the acquisition would give the airport a near-monopoly over parking spaces and pave the way for higher prices. Two other private lots have only a few hundred spaces each.

On Wednesday, airport spokesman Victor Gill said parking rate increases are nearly certain. Commissioners have not decided on new prices nor when they would take effect.

Shortly before Star Park opened in January 2003, the airport slashed its rates, in some cases by nearly 50%. With long-term fees at $4.55 a day, before taxes, passengers enjoyed some of the lowest airport parking prices in the nation.

But the rock-bottom rates also cost the airport millions in lost revenue and contributed to a budget deficit last year.

"Parking is about 40% of our operational revenue, so it's a big-ticket item," Gill said.

Star Park responded by slicing its prices, to $7 a day from $10.91, and offered other discounts. But large swaths of its lot remained empty. According to one estimate, the lot's owner, the development company Zelman A-1, was losing more than $100,000 a month.

Zelman President Ben Reiling said he was happy with the proposed sale.

The airport's purchase of the Zelman land is part of the proposed development agreement between the city and authority.

The tentative terms, outlined at Burbank's council meeting Tuesday night, include freezing the number of airplane gates, prohibiting the addition of gates for seven years and committing the city and the authority to work together to limit aircraft noise.

It also includes a promise by the city that it would not force the commission to sell the so-called B-6 property that had been designated as the site for a new terminal and allow the airport to develop that land for non-aviation use.

"It assures that the authority will not build any of the projects

The City Council will consider the proposed agreement this fall.

Some residents, who have fought efforts by the airport to expand or build a new terminal because they feared it could spur growth and more aircraft noise, remain wary. "As long as they hold on to the B-6 property, it allows them to build a new terminal in the future," said local activist Howard Rothenbach.

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