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Judge Denies Request to Block Burbank Airport Land Purchase

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A judge rejected the city of Burbank’s request for an order banning the immediate purchase of land for a new passenger terminal at Burbank Airport, officials said Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, in a 13-page decision, denied a temporary restraining order sought by Burbank officials who feared airport management was about to purchase 130 acres from Lockheed Martin Corp. for a larger terminal.

The judge found that efforts to acquire the land had stalled, a sale was not imminent, and that Burbank “failed to adequately demonstrate likely success on the merits” of the case.

Wardlaw scheduled a June 28 hearing for arguments on whether a preliminary injunction should be issued which would prevent the land acquisition until after a trial.

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The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, which runs the facility, is made up of three representatives from each of the three cities.

Most authority commissioners want to build a larger terminal to better accommodate about 5 million passengers per year, but Burbank officials are concerned about noise, congestion and other problems.

Burbank officials contend that state law gives the city veto power over any such land purchase. Officials who favor expansion say the law is unconstitutional.

Both sides agreed that the judge’s decision is but one step in what is likely to be a long process.

Burbank City Councilman Ted McConkey said the main objective was to make sure the land sale did not go through without residents’ concerns being presented in court.

“What we are assured of is that the airport is not going to surprise us by acquiring the land immediately,” McConkey said.

Carl Raggio Jr. of Glendale, authority president, said the judge’s decision showed that those in favor of the land purchase and terminal expansion are on solid ground.

In another ongoing dispute, the airport authority on Wednesday sued Burbank in Superior Court because of a new parking tax imposed by the city that calls for a 10% tax at profit-making parking facilities.

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The city ordinance, which became effective in February, would cost the airport about $1.2 million of its estimated $12 million in annual parking revenue.

Meanwhile, officials said that private mediation sessions that fell apart after both sides sued each other last week over terminal expansion issues will resume following a special closed meeting Wednesday night.

Pasadena Mayor William M. Paparian said officials agreed to focus their talks on making progress regarding airport noise, new terminal size and design, expenses and the land acquisition.

“It went real well,” said Paparian, who also is an airport authority commissioner. “I’m confident that we will be able to develop a framework.”

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Glendale Mayor Sheldon S. Baker, who last week called for the summit meeting between the mayors of the three cities and the president of the airport authority, said progress was made but much more needs to be done.

“People spoke openly and candidly. You don’t get there if you don’t start,” Baker said, adding, “The lawsuits continue. I’m sure there are going to be bumps in the road.”


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