Saturday, October 22, 2016

City officials who planned to discuss a ballot measure are instead met with questions about flight patterns

As Burbank's city attorney tried to answer some concerns raised by residents about a contentious ballot measure regarding a proposed 14-gate replacement terminal at Hollywood Burbank Airport on Tuesday, another issue arose, this time about new flight patterns.

City Atty. Amy Albano addressed several questions brought up by residents during a City Council meeting on Oct. 11 about a project to replace the existing terminal, which opened in 1930, with a new 355,000-square-foot, 14-gate terminal during a meeting on Tuesday.

In less than three weeks, Burbank residents will vote on Measure B, which asks them whether they would allow the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority to build a replacement terminal.

Much confusion arose about the whether the original Measure B, a ballot measure passed in 2000 that required voter approval for any relocated or expanded terminal at Hollywood Burbank Airport, would still be in effect if the 2016 ballot measure is approved.

Albano said that the 2000 Measure B would only be triggered if the project requires "further discretionary approval from the City Council." Furthermore, she said that if the 2016 ballot measure passes, then a supermajority voting system will be put into place on the airport authority board when addressing major issues, including additional gates, expansion of the terminal and entering into long-term agreements.

Under a supermajority, two members from each member city would need to approve major changes instead of the simple majority that is in place now.

Some residents were concerned that if the airport authority decides to build the replacement terminal on the southwest quadrant of the airfield, which airfield officials argue they can do without city or voter approval, that the airport could go ahead and build another terminal on the so-called B-6 parcel on the northeast quadrant.

If another terminal is proposed on the B-6 parcel, it would trigger a 2000 Measure B vote and would require approval from the City Council, Albano said.

Resident Carol Tensen said that although the airport authority's project and other ballot measures sound good in theory, "like a lot of these propositions, there's problems with the details."

Like other residents who spoke before her on Oct. 11, Tensen said she did not know why there was such rush for the city to put the ballot measure on the Nov. 8 ballot, adding that she would rather have the vote postponed until the municipal election in April.

While Albano addressed concerns about traffic and air quality, city staff was not ready to answer some questions residents had about the Federal Aviation Administration's Next Generation Air Transportation System, known as NextGen — a project unrelated to the proposed terminal project.

The new air-traffic-control system, which will be deployed across the country over the next several years, replaces radar technology with satellites to create more efficient routes and improve plane arrivals and departures. Its goal is to reduce emissions and save fuel.

However, residents in numerous cities throughout the country, including some in Northern California, have complained about an increase in noise around their airports after the FAA installed the system.

Residents in Palo Alto filed thousands of noise complaints with the San Francisco International Airport last year after the FAA implemented NextGen, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Burbank resident Tracy London said the new system would bring in 12 more flights an hour to Hollywood Burbank Airport, resulting in increased air and noise pollution in the neighborhoods around the airfield.

However, airport spokeswoman Lucy Burghdorf said she thinks there would not be additional flights after NextGen is installed at the local airport next month. She added that there were more planes arriving and departing from the airfield in 2007, and that the airport has not recovered since the economic downturn.

FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer agreed.

"The project may involve changes in aircraft flight paths and altitudes in certain areas, but would not result in any ground disturbance or increase the number of aircraft operations within the Southern California airspace," Kenitzer wrote in an email on Friday.

This week, the FAA held several community meetings and webinars to address the implementation of NextGen in what the agency labeled as the Southern California Metroplex, which includes Hollywood Burbank Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and John Wayne Airport.

(Anthony Clark Carpio - The Burbank Leader / Los Angeles Times)

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