Airport officials urge insulation installation

Bob Hope Airport officials are warning nearby residents to sign up for a government-paid noise insulation program now or risk losing the option later.

Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority Executive Director Dan Feger said federal funding for the program may be on the “chopping block” because of budget constraints. And a recession-induced drop in flights at Burbank and the use of quieter planes may also shrink the geographic area where the airport offers the service.

Since 1997, the Federal Aviation Administration and the airport have paid to replace windows and doors to dampen the noise jet engines make above homes near Bob Hope Airport. Property owners agree to waive the right to sue the airport over noise-related problems, and in exchange the airport provides tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of noise treatment, as well as up to $7,500 worth of upgrades to make homes compliant with local building codes.

The FAA pays for 80% of the program, with the airport picking up the rest. This year’s budget for the effort is $7.1 million.

Mark Hardyment, the airport’s director of noise and environmental programs, said the program is funded for the next four years, but uncertainty looms after that because of the federal budget deficit.

He also said a separate shift is likely to restrict residents’ access to the program.

Only homes where jet noise regularly meets or exceeds 65 decibels are eligible. That area is likely to shrink when the airport completes its next noise study, Hardyment said, because the recession has reduced the number of flights into and out of Bob Hope Airport compared to peak years and because new aircraft are quieter.

The eligible area now stretches from Hatteras Street on the Burbank-North Hollywood border to Sunland neighborhoods near Interstate 5.

“When the economy was going great guns, we had much more robust numbers,” Hardyment said. “With the downward trend in operations here … that is going to be creating less noise in the community.”

Hardyment told the airport authority Tuesday that of the 2,782 single-family homes currently eligible for the treatment, 1,846 are completed or underway, 308 could join the program, and 628 have either expressed no interest or have been dropped because of extensive code violations or other problems.

The authority’s board of directors voted unanimously to send letters encouraging all eligible homeowners to sign up.

“We can just see the handwriting on the wall,” Hardyment said. “Now is the time to jump in, before they find themselves on the wrong side of the line.”

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