Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Airport pact takes shape
City gets an earful from the community on the night they plan to vote on agreement that would limit development at Bob Hope Airport.
By Mark R. Madler
The Burbank (CA) Leader
DOWNTOWN BURBANK – After months of debate, City Council members were set to vote Tuesday night on a development agreement for Bob Hope Airport. People were turned away from the full council chambers for the meeting that had only the agreement as its sole agenda item.
A vote had not been taken by press time.
During the public comments portion of the meeting, a number of speakers implored the council to make a decision that night and not postpone the vote.
Whereas most council meetings tend to be dominated by anti-airport expansion speakers, Tuesday’s meeting included a large number of speakers urging the board to approve the agreement to bring certainty over what will happen at the airport.
“This is a compromise, and a compromise, by definition, won’t make everybody happy,” said resident Vos Peterson, who lives one mile from the airport. “This is something you need to do.”
The opposition sang its now-familiar refrain to the council – that the city doesn’t benefit from the agreements and that it gives up land control rights at the airport.
Wayne Jackson, a 35-year resident, said that while the agreement has some good points, it says nothing about what happens after it expires.
“There are too many loopholes,” Jackson said. “This allows, at a future date, for the airport to increase in size or expand the terminal.”
Since the announcement in June that the city and the Burbank- Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority were working on the agreement, the issue has come to dominate debate of the city’s future, spawned two lawsuits and will most like play a major role in next month’s City Council election.
The seven-year agreement is meant to end clashes between the city and airport authority on land use and zoning issues so officials can concentrate on a long-term airport plan, said Peter Kirsch, the attorney representing the city in airport matters.
The proposed development agreement spells out how city and airport officials will reduce airport noise, stop terminal expansion for 10 years, acquire an adjacent parking lot, hold off on selling 55 acres of neighboring property that is held in trust and construct a taxi-way.
Among the side issues resulting from the proposed agreement was a lawsuit challenging Kirsch as the city’s attorney because he was not licensed to practice in California. A Superior Court judge rejected that lawsuit, but it is on appeal.
A lawsuit was also filed to force the city to take the agreement to a vote of the residents. In October, a superior court judge found that the suit was premature because no agreement had been adopted and it was later withdrawn.