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BURBANK AIRPORT EXPANSION DROPPED.

Byline: Nicholas Grudin Staff Writer

BURBANK - The Burbank Airport Authority abandoned its long fight Friday to build a new passenger terminal, saying it was a hopeless cause in the face of broad community and political opposition.

Airport Authority members from Burbank, Pasadena and Glendale voted 5-4 to give up the effort, saying they could not overcome opposition from the Burbank City Council or Burbank residents who passed two initiatives aimed at preventing airport expansion.

Airport officials had long argued that safety was paramount because the existing terminal sits as close as 300 feet to the centerline of the runway. But opponents have fought it, seeing the new terminal as a ruse to increase air traffic that is resented because of noise, and they feared Friday's decision was a back-door way to increase passenger traffic without imposing morning and late night curfews.

``This is the summation of a long series of events,'' said Victor Gill, spokesman for the authority. ``It's one thing to have a controversial issue if there is the prospect of attaining the final goal. But that goal is looking impossible because of the lack of local political consensus and the lack of stronger support from the FAA about the need for the project.''

The Airport Authority now is looking at selling or leasing the 59-acre property where the terminal was to go.

Far from jubilant over the decision, Burbank city leaders dismissed the move as a ploy to allow the airport to expand incrementally without dealing with community demands for curfews that a new terminal involved.

``It's a Trojan horse,'' said Burbank City Manager Robert ``Bud'' Ovrom. ``The Airport Authority says that Burbank wins because there will not be a new terminal. The real thing, however, is that Burbank loses - there will not be a curfew or growth restraints.''

But Howard Rothenbach, who pushed last year's successful Measure A ballot initiative that required a curfew at a new terminal, was ecstatic at the news Friday night.

``It's fantastic,'' said Rothenbach, chairman of Restore Our Airport Rights. ``I think it's a great idea that they sell that property.''

Chris Holden of Pasadena, chairman of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, had already conceded defeat Monday in a letter to Federal Aviation Administrator Marion Blakey.

``There is now a lengthy litany of factors ... which ... place difficult and perhaps insurmountable obstacles in the path of a terminal relocation in Burbank,'' Holden wrote. ``It may well be that the only alternative open to the Authority is to permanently remain in the current terminal building.''

Burbank Mayor David Laurell responded Thursday with a letter of his own to Holden, challenging characterizations of consensus on the new terminal as ``beyond our reach,'' ``insurmountable'' or ``unachievable.''

Laurell reiterated plans by the city to move ahead with a policy on the airport for consideration by voters next spring.

All three of the Burbank members of the Airport Authority voted against Friday's action.

``If they scrap the new terminal plan, there will never be a curfew,'' said Charlie Lombardo, vice president of the authority.

Ovrom contended the decision allows the airport to continue to grow, unrestrained.

``They're now going to try to keep piecemealing this terminal together and grow the airport without any controls,'' Ovrom said.

The airport currently is involved in a $25 million renovation, part of a federal mandate to increase security in the wake of the 9-11 terrorism attacks. That 40,000-square-foot addition also includes widening corridors and adding offices.

Beyond that, Gill said, further growth is not planned.

Discussions over the proposed new terminal have been contentious for more than a decade, costing Burbank in excess of $14 million in legal fees, Ovrom said.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 9, 2002
Words:609
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