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Airport parking tiff rankles council pair

Ben Godar

Despite sharp criticism this week from City Council members,

Burbank-Glendale-Pas- adena Airport officials maintain that foot

traffic from a privately owned parking lot creates safety and

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liability problems, and say they have no plans to accommodate

pedestrians in the area.

Since Star Park opened in January, airport officials have closed a

crosswalk leading from the lot to Terminal B and have put up

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no-crossing signs. In March, airport police began issuing $90 tickets

to violators, but stopped doing so after a judge ruled June 9 that

the airport did not have the authority to enforce the regulation.

This past weekend, airport officials erected a fence across the

section of the access road where pedestrians were crossing. As a

result, they also redirected traffic moving along the airport loop.

Airport Authority Executive Director Dios Marrero and Commissioner

Don Brown justified the need for the fence at Tuesday’s council

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meeting. To illustrate their point, they showed video footage of

people wandering from Star Park and other nearby locations in various

directions across the airport access roads.

“Whether it’s an imperfect solution or not, the fence eliminates

the citations and hopefully eliminates people violating our rules and

regulations,” Marrero told the council.

Mayor Stacey Murphy and Councilman Dave Golonski rejected the idea

that the crossing dispute was the result of safety concerns.

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“I’m friends with both of you, I like both of you, but I’m

disgusted,” Murphy told Brown and Marrero. “It’s disingenuous to say

this has anything to do with anything except a war over finances.”

Despite the criticism, Brown said airport officials have no plans

to remove the fence. He said if a plan was devised that would allow

pedestrians to cross safely, he would support it, but until then he

thinks the fence is the best option.

“I can understand the public’s perception of this,” he said.

“There is an economic issue because the airport derives a lot of

money from parking. But that’s not what’s driving us -- it’s public

safety.”

While the airport continues to negotiate with Zelman Development

Co. to operate the lot, Brown said if that happened, the airport

still would not allow customers to cross at the location.

Though voicing her displeasure with the airport’s actions, Murphy

said the city views the situation as a legal dispute between Zelman

and the airport, and has no intention of becoming involved.

Zelman Vice President Paul Casey said company officials are hoping

to get the fence removed as part of a lawsuit dealing with many

issues about their access to the airport.

“The judge decided for the term of the litigation he would not

restrict them from removing the crosswalk and blocking the crossing,

but that was not his final decision,” Casey said.


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