The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but at
the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport, walking that line is illegal.
Since the opening in January of Star Park, a private parking lot
just south of the airport’s property, airport officials have
restricted its sidewalk access to the airport. The airport installed
a chain-link fence, cutting off a crosswalk from the sidewalk to
Terminal B, and used a sandblaster to remove the paint marking the
A sign also was installed warning pedestrians that it is illegal
to cross there, and Airport Police are issuing citations to those who
try. Airport Security Chief Mike Post estimated his officers issue
two of the $90 tickets each day.
But what airport officials call a public-safety issue, the owners
of the Star Park lot call a blatant attempt to hurt their business.
Paul Casey, vice president of Zelman Development Co., said the
crosswalk was there for 60 years and was deemed a safety risk only
after Zelman opened its lot, which competes with airport-owned
“They’re trying to intimidate people to park on their property,”
When city officials looked at the crosswalk, which is controlled
by a stop sign, they did not rule it a safety risk, Traffic Engineer
Ken Johnson said. While it is at the airport’s discretion to regulate
intersections on its property, he said that in the city, it is legal
to cross any intersection that has stop signs.
“The safest place pedestrians could cross is at an intersection
that is controlled,” Johnson said.
Airport officials deemed the intersection unsafe after having it
evaluated by a contracted traffic engineer. While control of the
intersection did not change when Star Park opened, Post said the
higher volume of pedestrian traffic led airport officials to take
another look at the crossing.
“Even when the crosswalk was there, the people that crossed didn’t
use the crosswalk,” he said.
On the north side of the airport loop, many pedestrians cross the
same road on their way to Terminal A, but Airport Authority spokesman
Victor Gill said that side is regulated by traffic officers. Creating
similar high pedestrian traffic on the south side raises liability
concerns for the airport, he said.
“Once they cross into our traffic area, they’re not going to be
suing Star Park,” Gill said.
Airport Police distributed leaflets for two weeks, warning the
crossing would be closed, before officers began issuing tickets, Post
said. While Burbank and Glendale police also patrol the airport,
Glendale Police spokeswoman Officer Leticia Chang said the officers
are not assigned to the area of the former crosswalk.
Despite the warnings, many of the 200-plus Southwest Airlines and
Transportation Safety Administration employees who use the Star Park
lot have been ticketed, Parking Manager John Rodriquez said. He said
Airport Police patrol the area whenever those workers have a shift
Employees aren’t the only ones using Star Park. Elizabeth Adams,
from Huntsville, Texas, was making her first trip to the airport
Tuesday when she was ticketed. She promised it would also be her last
“They’ve got crosswalks at even busier places where cabs are
passing all the time, but that’s OK, apparently,” she said.
With the crosswalk closed, Star Park customers must board a
shuttle van and ride around the airport’s loop to a terminal that’s
only a block away from where they parked. Post said the only way for
the lot’s customers to legally walk to the terminal is by parking at
the far end of the lot and crossing where the airport access road
meets Empire Avenue.
The Airport Authority is not concerned that blocking the
pedestrian access adds to shuttle traffic in the loop, and Gill said
Star Park has the same shuttle access as other similar carriers.
Zelman is appealing court rulings that allowed the crosswalk to be
closed, and a lawsuit by the airport seeking to block the lot’s
shuttle access to the loop is pending. Airport officials were in
negotiations with Zelman to operate the lot, but Casey said that
three days after those talks broke down, the airport filed a lawsuit
trying to block the access.
“The airport doesn’t want people parking on our property because
it’s not their property,” he said.