Airport authority aims for curfew on flights

BURBANK — The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority unanimously voted Monday to start the clock on approving a mandatory ban on all flights at Bob Hope Airport from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. as recommended in the Part 161 Study.

The authority formally presented the proposed curfew to the public in a conference room at the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel & Convention Center and will hold a 45-day open public comment period, starting March 31. Officials will also hold a public workshop on April 14 and a public hearing on May 12.

On June 16, the authority plans to add comments to the report and will submit it to the Federal Aviation Administration, which has the final say as to whether the curfew will be implemented, officials said. The proposed curfew has generated a significant amount of interest in the community, which led the authority to move its meeting Monday from the airport Sky Room to the Celebration/Gala room of the hotel to accommodate the more than two dozen community activists, airport officials and representatives from the city of Burbank who were on hand to hear the details of the study and opinions of commissioners, who all praised the proposed curfew.

“I was around when we started this, and we've done what we told the public we would do,” Burbank Airport Commissioner Charles Lombardo said. “This is the best thing we can do.”

But that gratification could be put on ice as implementation of the curfew — something no other airport in the country has tried to do since the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 that banned airports from mandating flight times unless approved by the FAA — faces an uphill battle, Lombardo said.

“A lot of people don't want it,” he said. “It opens up the possibility [of a curfew] to all airports. It sets a precedent, and they think it would create chaos. They are following it closely.”

Residents such as Laverne Thomas are also paying close attention to the curfew.

“This is a great day for the city of Burbank and its residents,” Thomas said. “We need to move forward in a positive way.”

After the authority submits the curfew application to the FAA, the governmental agency is required to rule on it within six months, but it is unclear whether the assessment will take that long, according to FAA spokesman Ian Gregor.

“We have to thoroughly review this, but it's fair to say our review will take months,” he said. “It's hard to say how long a review might take. The Part 161 process is both rigorous and complex.”

The authority has to meet six general FAA requirements proving that the curfew would not create “an undue burden on interstate and foreign commerce” and “does not conflict with federal law,” among other things, said Tom Ryan, an attorney with McDermott, Will & Emery, the airport's legal counsel.

Ryan believes the curfew surpasses the bar the FAA has set.

“We've gone above and beyond what is required,” he said. “[The FAA] can't act arbitrarily or capriciously to deny the application.”

Airport officials plan to enlist the help of local and federal officials to present a unified front to the FAA.

“It's essential for this to proceed that there's advocacy,” Dan Feger, airport interim executive director, said while looking at Mayor Marsha Ramos and Councilwoman Anja Reinke. “We need the support of Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena and congressional representatives.”

The authority, which already has a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., will ask Rep. Adam Schiff to join the chorus of support.

Schiff was unavailable for comment Monday, but Reinke was pleased that the process is finally getting underway.

“I'm very happy with this and look forward to working with everyone,” she said.

While officials were satisfied that the proposed curfew is moving forward, some acknowledged the turbulence that lies ahead.

“This is not the end,” authority President and Glendale Commissioner Carl Povilaitis said. “It hasn't been easy to this point, and it won't be easy from here on out.”

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