VAN NUYS AIRPORT PLAN HITS TURBULENCE.
About 300 mostly angry homeowners packed a public hearing Wednesday night to protest a 20-year master plan for Van Nuys Airport that calls for more jets and helicopters.
Residents said noise emanating from the airport is bad enough but the additional aircraft envisioned in the 20-year blueprint for growth will only make matters worse.
``It's almost comparable to LAX,'' said Bill Bernhardt, a Van Nuys resident who lives in the airport's flight path. ``Before, it used to be just a nuisance. Now with all the jets it's intolerable.''
Airport officials say even though there would be more planes, noise would be reduced because sound walls would be added. And, they said, newer, quieter aircraft gradually would take the place of older, louder planes.
Wednesday's hearing was the first of several planned to discuss the airport's 20-year master plan and the accompanying environmental report that analyzes the effects of airport growth on the community.
The plan is expected to be finalized by summer. Airport officials said recommendations from the public and other city agencies will be considered when a final master plan is drafted.
State Sen. Tom Hayden, D-Los Angeles, said he has asked the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee to hold up the budget for the state Department of Transportation's aeronautics division until noise concerns at the airport are addressed.
Hayden said he and Sen. Herschel Rosenthal, D-Los Angeles, want to be appointed to the airport's Part 150 Steering Committee to assure that the residents' concerns about noise are addressed.
While the committee - which primarily deals with the noise problem - provides for representation by state officials, it does not include state-elected officials, Hayden said.
``Senator Rosenthal and I are locked out,'' he said. ``We want to make sure there is not a one-sided promoter of a certain agenda.''
Officials with the city's Department of Airports listened to the comments but did not respond.
Although anti-noise activists call the plan an ``expansion'' because of the increase in planes, under the master plan, the airport size would remain the same.
There would be changes, though, in how the land is slated to be used.
The amount of acreage designated for aircraft uses - not counting the 220-acre runway and clearance area - would shrink from 369 to 232 acres. However, only 161 acres now are being used for aviation activity.
Meantime, the number of jets based at the airport could increase from 107 to as many as 165 by 2015, a 54 percent increase, according to the environmental study. The number of helicopters could increase from 44 to as many as 69 during the same period, a 57 percent hike.