Meeting on Van Nuys Airport Issue : 3 of 4 Groups Want Air Guard to Move

Times Staff Writer

Representatives of three Valley homeowners' groups urged at a public meeting Tuesday night that the Air National Guard move out of Van Nuys Airport, but the head of a fourth group said she wishes the guard would remain.

The meeting at Mulholland Junior High School in Van Nuys was called by a private research firm to gather comments from the public on an environmental impact report it is preparing for state and federal agencies.

A preliminary report recommends that the Air Guard unit based at Van Nuys, the 146th Tactical Airlift Wing, move to a Navy airfield in Ventura County.

The guard has a 62-acre site in the northwest corner of Van Nuys Airport, all that remains of the airfield's role as an Army Air Corps base in World War II.

Noise, Safety Concerns

Citing complaints about aircraft noise and safety worries, representatives of Homeowners of Encino, the Van Nuys Homeowners Assn., and Ban Airport Noise said they oppose allowing the guard unit to remain at Van Nuys, which is one of four alternatives under consideration. The final decision will be made by the secretary of the air force.

But Ann Kinzele, president of the Reseda Community Assn., said her group "would like to see the Air Guard stay and expand." Long Beach and other coastal cities provide homes for Navy installations, Riverside and San Bernardino counties host Air Force bases, and Valley residents should be willing to support a military base too, she said.

"It makes you feel good to know they're there, and in emergencies they go out and help people," she said.

The environmental statement reviewed the effects of four choices--remaining at Van Nuys or moving to Norton Air Force Base in Riverside County, to a site near Palmdale, or to Point Mugu Naval Air Station just south of Oxnard.

Point Mugu Preferred

The report said the move to Point Mugu is the alternative preferred by the Air Guard and by Air Force officials in Washington.

Gerald Silver, president of Homeowners of Encino, said the community groups, which are at odds with the airport management over noise from civilian jet charter planes, are worried that the guard's site will be leased to operators "who will fill it with even more noisy air taxis and charter jets."

Capt. Lloyd Crumrine, base operations officer, said the guard unit wants to move "for reasons of safety, land constraints and the expiration of its existing lease."

Guard officers have said for years that denser housing around the airfield and the large number of civilian light planes at Van Nuys, the third busiest airfield in the nation in number of takeoffs and landings, make military flying impossible.

Training Done Elsewhere

Although the unit's C-130 aircraft, propjet cargo planes, are parked there, and the unit's full-time headquarters and maintenance staff works there, the planes are flown to other military bases in the area for training operations.

The guard's $1-a-year lease, a condition required when the federal government donated the airfield to the city in 1947, expires June 30.

If the Air Force wanted to remain at the site permanently, Crumrine said, it would be obliged by current law to pay the city the market price of the land, which city Airport Department officials estimate at $600,000 to $1 million a year.

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