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Commissioners Object to FAA Proposal at Hearing : Burbank Airport Resists Curb on Local Control

Times Staff Writer

Burbank Airport officials Wednesday sharply criticized a proposed Federal Aviation Administration policy calling for greater use of the nation’s airports and limits on local regulations regarding aircraft noise.

Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority President Robert W. Garcin and Commissioners Margie Gee and Mary Lou Howard, speaking at a hearing held by the FAA in El Segundo, opposed greater federal control over aircraft noise.

“Our position is that a national policy is fine as long as it does not prevent the ability of the local citizenry to have some input in the matter,” Garcin said. “There are parts of the proposed policy which suggest this all-important local involvement may not be preserved.”

The airport officials were among many airline administrators and city officials, including Los Angeles City Council President Pat Russell, who addressed the hearing, which is expected to conclude today.

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The proposed FAA policy stipulates that “sufficient airport capacity” be provided to meet the demands of the traveling public in a “safe, efficient and environmentally sound manner,” which could mean airport expansion, the FAA acknowledges.

Noise Factor

Anti-noise groups find any increase in the number of airlines serving Burbank Airport controversial.

The proposed FAA policy would amend the agency’s airport grant regulations--through which it helps local airports financially--to require airport operators to assure that they will meet air-traffic demands by increasing the capacity or access to their airports if needed.

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Wednesday’s was the third of three public hearings aimed at formulating a general policy to replace the current practice of treating the problems of each airport on a case-by-case basis. Previous hearings were held in Washington and Denver.

The FAA proposal says that restrictions on airport use should be a last resort in fighting airport-caused noise, and that airport operators must show that such restrictions are the best way to deal with the noise problem.

“Airport use restrictions may be considered only when other less restrictive alternatives are clearly shown to be inadequate and less effective ways to achieve the goals of the noise compatibility program,” the policy draft states.

Garcin protested that this policy would make airports assume the burden of proof for justifying noise restrictions. “The airport must demonstrate that a given measure is the ‘best way’ of controlling noise,” he said. “Since there is no ‘best way’ to control noise, this, we deem, is an unreasonable burden.”

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Garcin also said that, under the proposed policy, the FAA would decide the reasonableness of noise restrictions, but airports would continue to bear the liability in lawsuits and public protests.

“The FAA should not make the rules if it’s not a full participant in the game,” he said.

Legal Reverses

Burbank Airport has suffered a series of reverses in suits filed by anti-noise groups, and Garcin has warned that such court actions could make it economically impossible to keep the airport open.

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Garcin added that the FAA’s suggested solution to the noise problem--better land-use planning--is “wishful thinking.”

“The Burbank noise problem developed long after the property around the airport had been put in use,” he said. “Jets entered the picture after it was too late to plan for jets. Land-use planning has little application under such circumstances.”

Gee, a longtime protester of airport noise, said the proposed policy showed “an obvious bias towards the airline industry at the expense of the affected public and the airport proprietors.” She said the FAA should concentrate on phasing out noisier aircraft.

Gee identified herself at the hearing as a Burbank Airport commissioner, although she had agreed with the other members of the airport authority Monday that she would appear as a private citizen after the other commissioners ruled that only Garcin was to present the authority’s position to the FAA.

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