The Los Angeles City Council was warned Tuesday that passing a zoning law to restrain Burbank Airport from extending a taxiway would be illegal, but the council ignored the warning.
By a 13-0 vote, the council approved a zoning law that would require the airport to submit any construction plans to the city for an environmental review if the projects are to be built within Los Angeles city limits.
The law is aimed at Burbank Airport’s plans to build a 2,000-foot addition to its Taxiway B, situated on the west side of its north-south runway. It could set the stage for a showdown between the airport and the city, which have often clashed in recent years over airplane noise.
The northern tip of the airport extends over the Burbank city line into Los Angeles. The taxiway extension is to be built on 53 acres situated entirely in Los Angeles, and the airport plans to begin grading next month.
The measure to restrict the airport was introduced by Councilman Joel Wachs, who represents nearby neighborhoods.
Wachs has said the law may give the city leverage over airport expansion plans that have been in the works for years and are opposed by many Los Angeles homeowners. “It’ll be effective if they need this property for their expansion project,” Wachs said a week ago when the measure was first reviewed by the council.
Wachs was in Europe at a housing conference.
Speaking to the council for the Burbank Airport’s governing board was attorney Chris Funk, who said the new zoning law would be illegal because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that local zoning laws cannot supersede Federal Aviation Administration guidelines for airports.
The city law would “thwart the objectives of the FAA” and be contrary to “good public purposes and safety,” Funk said.
Funk said the extension of Taxiway B is needed to enhance safety. Because the taxiway is too short, aircraft on the west side of the north-south runway must cross the runway--at right angles to other traffic--to reach Taxiway A on the opposite side in order to arrive at the northern end of the runway to take off.