The headline appearing in the July 2 edition of the Leader, “Airport
faced with big FAA bill,” brought to mind the difficulties that arise
when local public entities attempt to solve vital and complex local
projects with the dollar support, but with little else in the way of
help, when dealing with the federal agencies.
It also brought to mind the dramatic inroads the federal bureaus
have made in controlling an ever-increasing number of state and local
issues. Surprisingly, this has been accomplished by the recycling of
a portion of our tax dollars back to us, in the form of federal
I doubt if the framers of the Constitution could have visualized a
time such as this when the states would transmit ever-burdensome tax
dollars to the federal government each year, and later beg for the
return of a portion of those tax dollars to fund much-needed local
This recycling of tax dollars presumes that distant federal
agencies possess superior judgment regarding which local projects are
to be funded, and which will be allowed to fail. As citizens, we
trust these federal agencies will make well thought-out decisions,
offering positive results. Unfortunately, there are times the
opposite is true.
The current and recently appointed FAA administrator has made the
decision -- the request for return of prior federal grants -- should
be accomplished in apparent disregard for the future of a vitally
needed air transportation facility, serving the citizens in an area
of rapid growth.
If the return of federal grant dollars results in the sale of the
required land parcel, the last chance to hammer out a mutually
acceptable terminal development plan may be forever foreclosed.
Following that happening, the administrator could take the
position -- since there will be no new terminals, and because the old
terminal is in strict violation of federal runway setback rules --
why not cancel the Burbank Airport’s right to operate as a commercial
air transportation facility? Thus ending all airline flight
activities at that location.
One can instantly see that this matter has rapidly escalated from
a local issue to one that effects both intrastate and interstate air
commerce. For that reason, the offices of the governor, as well as
our US Senators and Congressional Representatives, should be
contacted and made aware of the gravity of this situation.
Only such combined political power can halt the return of federal
grant dollars. In doing so, it would preserve the statue quo and
provide a golden opportunity for the resumption of more enlightened
negotiations regarding the airport, granting balanced considerations
to the citizen groups, airlines, the Airport Authority, the involved
cities, the FAA and other interested parties.
The timing is critical and the decisions will have a lasting
impact -- and the need for concerted action is now.
David M. Simmons