Officials have voted to raise parking daily rates at Bob Hope Airport by $1 next year to fund a legal battle against Lockheed Martin Corp. over who should pay for the cleanup of polluted groundwater beneath the airfield.
The fee increase is the latest chapter in a long-running dispute between the Burbank airport and Lockheed, which once manufactured military aircraft at the site. Airport officials insist the contamination is the fault of Lockheed alone, but the aircraft manufacturer and the Environmental Protection Agency say the airport is partly responsible and should therefore shoulder a portion of the $108-million cleanup expense.
"This is a most regrettable situation, and we think it's totally unfair of the EPA to put the airport, the airlines and the traveling public in this position," said Dan Feger, executive director of the Burbank-Glendale- Pasadena Airport Authority. The authority approved the increase unanimously.
Beginning Feb. 1, the short-term daily parking rate will be $31 a day, the long-term rate will be $10 to $12 a day and the valet rate will be $21 a day.
The change will push the short-term rate at Bob Hope Airport slightly higher than at Los Angeles International Airport, which is the most expensive in the region, according to the airport authority.
Bob Hope Airport's long-term rate will still be lower than LAX's, and the valet rate will remain as the lowest among regional airports.
Feger said his agency would also launch a campaign to explain to travelers why fees were being raised.
The rate increase is expected to generate $1.4 million to $1.6 million a year. The airport last raised parking rates in 2006.
In July, the EPA informed the airport that it was considered a "potentially responsible party" for cleanup of the contamination — including chromium, dioxane and volatile organic compounds — that occurred during the decades when Lockheed used the area for manufacturing military aircraft.
The EPA action led the airport to file a lawsuit asking a federal judge to order Lockheed to cover its portion of the cleanup costs.
Airport officials claim that in 1978 Lockheed agreed to indemnify the airport for any cleanup costs related to former uses of the site.
"Lockheed caused it. Lockheed should clean it up," Feger said.
Lockheed spokeswoman Gail Rymer said in an e-mail that the company has offered to negotiate with the airport over cleanup costs and has long taken responsibility for its former operations in the San Fernando Valley.
But Rymer said some contamination came from other sources.
"A portion of these groundwater impacts are associated with a facility on the airport property that contained fire pits not created or operated by Lockheed Martin," she said. "As such, the airport authority should take responsibility, or pursue other potentially responsible parties."