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Burbank’s Battle Over Airport Noise

The Times has capitulated to Burbank’s tactic of holding Burbank Airport’s replacement terminal project hostage unless the Airport Authority and the FAA bow to the city’s demands for restrictions on night and early morning flights (editorial, Feb. 20). The state and federal governments deal with environmental impacts of such projects by requiring thorough environmental impact reports. The reports for this project found that there was not a significant impact on aircraft noise from the new terminal.

The Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 sets out how to get a new curfew or other aircraft noise restrictions. There is a mandatory study that must show to the FAA’s satisfaction that the new rule is justified. The authority has offered repeatedly to do the study and live with the FAA’s judgment. The Times would instead substitute a new policy tool: Implement noise rules, whether they are warranted or not, so long as the city nearest an airport is willing to jeopardize a vital safety project and demonstrates uncommon expertise and tenacity at holding a disruptive and expensive legal temper tantrum.

THOMAS E. GREER, Exec. Dir., Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority

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The lack of candor in the Airport Authority’s remarks after a court ruled in its favor shows why it has been so hard to settle the airport expansion dispute. The authority’s suggestion that a new terminal would be built in two or three years is simply a cynical attempt to manipulate public opinion. Both sides knew before the decision was rendered that the ruling would be appealed, joining four other lawsuits already on appeal by both sides. This battle has just begun, and the Burbank City Council is confident that the city will prevail in the Court of Appeals.

The law hasn’t changed: The authority must still comply with Burbank’s zoning laws. Much of the expansion land has been prohibited for airport use since before the authority even was created. Unless Burbank approves a zoning change, the authority could spend millions of dollars to acquire property it can’t use. While this latest case is on appeal, the authority ought to consider how much the public would benefit if it became more flexible and reasonable.

PETER KIRSCH, Special Counsel to Burbank on Airport Affairs


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