L. A. Moves to Reduce Burbank Airport Noise

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles City Council this week stepped up efforts to reduce noise from Burbank Airport over East San Fernando Valley neighborhoods.

The council voted to send a letter to the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority attacking the environmental impact study prepared for a new airport terminal as "seriously deficient" and calling for a new report.

The council's unanimous action on Tuesday sets the stage for Los Angeles to file a lawsuit to block building of the terminal, which would greatly increase the airport's capacity.

"They had better take our concerns seriously," warned Councilman Joel Wachs, a leading critic of the airport. "We're prepared to do anything that we can legally do to make sure that the impact on the people of the city of Los Angeles is considered and mitigated to the extent possible."

Opposes Noise Variance

Council members also voted to oppose a variance from state noise standards for the airport unless the authority agrees to shift half the takeoffs to the east--over the three cities that own the airport--instead of over Los Angeles neighborhoods to the south and west.

A second issue, Wachs said, is how much noise the airport will be permitted to generate, which would be determined by the size of the new terminal.

The council's criticisms of the environmental impact report are contained in a study prepared by a task force of city departments and in an 18-page analysis written by the city attorney.

Among the major criticisms is that the environmental impact report grossly underestimates growth at the airport from construction of a new terminal. The impact report says the terminal could handle 7.3 million passengers annually, more than twice last year's total of 3 million.

Los Angeles officials contend that the terminal "could serve significantly more passengers, probably 10 million a year or more."

The study, Los Angeles officials said, also fails to adequately detail potential noise, traffic and environmental problems from the terminal's construction, and to propose solutions.

"The overall impression gained from review of the EIR/EIS is that it has been prepared as a post hoc rationalization for doubling the airport's size, regardless of the impacts," said the analysis by the city attorney's office.

Mitigating Measures

"The failure to propose substantive mitigation measures for any of the impacts of growth further enhances the impression that environmental concerns are being given superficial consideration, at best," said the analysis.

Airport spokesman Victor Gill said in an interview that the airport will look at Los Angeles' comments and prepare a response. But, he added, "We seriously doubt that the document is deficient."

The council also instructed the city attorney to seek implementation of a so-called share-the-noise program at a hearing on the airport's request for a variance from state noise standards.

Los Angeles officials previously called for implementation of the share-the-noise plan, but the airport authority has contended that, under Federal Aviation Administration regulations, it has no power to order pilots to take off to the east.

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