By a margin of roughly 2 to 1, residents in the tri-city region favor a new terminal at Bob Hope Airport, according to a recent poll. The poll also revealed a major knowledge gap about just how old the existing facility is.
The survey, conducted by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research mid-February, found that among those polled in Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena and portions of Los Angeles near the airfield, 67% favored a replacement terminal that was further from the runway — a move long pushed for by the Federal Aviation Administration — but that remained the same size as the current 80-year-old facility. Just 24% opposed it.
The support is good news for the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, which for years has been mulling ways to build public and political support for a new terminal, which the FAA has repeatedly said is too close to the runway. Also, portions of the terminal do not meet current seismic standards.
But the survey results — released during a joint meeting Thursday of the Burbank City Council and airport authority — also revealed that the public remains largely unaware of the terminal's age.
When respondents learned of its structural issues, support for a new terminal shot up.
The results are based on 1,111 interviews conducted between Feb. 11 and 19, with more than half of the respondents — 598 — living in Burbank.
The most common concerns raised by those surveyed was the cost of a new terminal and how it would be funded, and whether it would be paid for using taxpayer dollars.
But all of the funding for a replacement terminal would come from the airport, which is self-sustaining through parking revenues, rental fees and passenger-related charges, said Dan Feger, the airport authority's executive director.
Expressing the fact that no tax dollars would be used might have changed the poll results, said Paul Goodwin, owner of Goodwin Simon Strategic Research, during the meeting Thursday. But the funding question was not answered because it was not part of the list of questions drawn up from interviews with focus groups and community leaders.
“I would imagine we would have had an even more positive response,” he said.
Other questions were posed in the survey, such as how much noise and traffic the airport generates, but a majority of the respondents didn't feel those issues were major concerns, according to the survey results.
The lopsided support for a new terminal in the survey surprised some who were all too aware of the historical pushback against the plan.
“One of the problems with this report is it's hard to believe,” Burbank Councilman David Gordon said at the meeting. “It's inconsistent with the historical background.”
However, airport officials have pointed to considerable efforts made by the authority to address issues that have irked residents. Technological advances have been beneficial, too.
For example, quieter planes fly into and out of the airfield and a years-long sound-insulation program has been implemented for nearby homes and schools.