Locals oppose new plans to expand Burbank airport

Lindsay Wu

As part of their ongoing protest regarding recently increased air traffic, Los Angeles residents submitted comprehensive comments to the Federal Aviation Administration opposing its plans to expand the Bob Hope “Hollywood Burbank” Airport terminal March 1.  More than 1,600 residents have also signed an online petition created by Studio City for Quiet Skies, an organization working to improve air traffic conditions.

In January, the Burbank airport announced its intention to renovate in order to meet current FAA standards and California Building Codes.  As part of the federal environmental review process, the FAA will also prepare an Environmental Impact Statement. During the project, current buildings will be replaced by a new fourteen-gate passenger terminal.  After completion, the old terminal will be demolished within twelve months and taxiways will be extended.

Studio City for Quiet Skies sent in two different comments objecting to the airport’s future plans.

“Our position is that we oppose the New Expanded Terminal, unless and until fundamental and permanent changes in procedures —including a change in the departure flight path that will entirely avoid public parklands and terrain—are made,” Studio City for Quiet Skies Founder Kimberly Turner (Sophie ’12) said.

The organization’s primary comment emphasized the potential disruptions the new terminal would cause for hillside valley communities.

However, the terminal will not necessarily result in increased operations, Director of Public Affairs and Communications for the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport, owner and operator of the Hollywood Burbank Airport Lucy Burghdorf said.

The group’s second comment focused on the California Environmental Quality Act and Environmental Impact Report, both of which Burbank voters used in order to pass their expansion plan, Turner said.

In addition to environmental groups, local political representatives have worked positively with and helped voice the residents’ concerns, Turner said.  

“The residents of the City of Los Angeles, and especially those in the East San Fernando Valley, have been largely left out of the dialogue about the future of the Airport. Residents of Van Nuys, North Hollywood, Toluca Lake, Valley Village, Valley Glen, Sun Valley and Studio City already must bear the brunt of the burden of noise from departing and arriving aircraft,” Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian wrote in a comment regarding the terminal expansion.  “I urge that the [FAA] thoroughly identify and analyze all impacts upon the communities of Los Angeles.”

The Burbank airport will hold the first of six public meetings regarding the new terminal March 27 at 6 p.m, where the residents will be able to voice their concerns.

At the public’s insistence, the Burbank airport also sent an official request to the FAA under Section 175 of the FAA Reauthorization Act, which is meant to address community noise concerns.  The Burbank and Van Nuys airports are the first and second, respectively, in the country to use the legislation, Turner said.

However, the Los Angeles City Council passed resolutions against both airports, Turner said.  The council is prepared to pursue legal action against the FAA regarding Burbank’s procedures, which are expected to publish April 25. In addition, the City filed an appeal regarding the FAA’s denial to provide a Freedom of Information Act.

“We have made progress, albeit slowly, but as you can see, there are still jets above our heads,” Turner said.  “It is important to note that there is a noise complaint increase of 27,300 percent at Burbank Airport, and our landlocked communities are in the cross hairs of [Burbank and Van Nuys].  The airports must publish the complaints, therefore it is vital that every person impacted keeps complaining. The public is supportive of any action that will effect change. Our communities have been suffering under the Burbank Airport flight path for more than two years and just want some relief.”

Correction (April 8): The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority will hold the six public meetings, according to Director of Public Affairs and Communications for the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport, owner and operator of the Hollywood Burbank Airport, Lucy Burghdorf.  The airport’s renovation project will include a 14-gate replacement passenger terminal and will expand the taxiways for safety. In addition, Burghdorf said the California Environmental Quality Act and Environmental Impact Report were completed in 2016 and remains valid. Lastly, the FAA directs arrivals and departures from the airport.