HomeCity NewsBurbank Glendale Pasadena Airport Authority Ousts L.A. Citizens from Commission

Burbank Glendale Pasadena Airport Authority Ousts L.A. Citizens from Commission

By Gavin J. Quinton
Glendale News-Press

Ten miles from the Hollywood Burbank Airport, residents from Studio City and other San Fernando Valley communities are still embroiled in a decadelong battle with the Federal Aviation Administration over aircraft noise and environmental concerns from flights out of the Hollywood Burbank Airport.
Now, after years of representation on the Burbank Glendale Pasadena Airport Authority Citizens Advisory Committee, commissioners voted on March 18 to remove Los Angeles representatives from the citizen-run board, citing that those residents would still have opportunities to engage the board about noise concerns.
“The [commission’s] purpose is to listen to public comments from all areas and people who are affected. In our discussion, we felt that the three owners of the airport are Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena. Just like we do not sit on any committees for LAX or Van Nuys, we are the owners of the airport, we are the ones who are responsible and that’s who we felt should be on the committee making recommendations to us, but the committee is there to listen to all comments from everyone, from every part of the area that is affected,” said BGPAA President Felicia Williams.
The committee was established following recommendations from a 2018 noise task force, which was formed to address the fallout of an FAA decision to shift flight paths south of the Hollywood Burbank Airport over thousands of homes that had never before experienced aircraft noise or emissions.
At the time, residents from Los Angeles were invited to sit on the committee, as flight path changes directly affected them.
“One morning in late 2016 or early 2017, my husband and I were woken up to what sounded like a military invasion,” one Studio City resident, Julia Bricklin, told the News-Press.
What shocked Bricklin at the time, aside from the jolt of noise at 6 a.m., was that she knew the closest commercial airport to her home was about 10 miles away: the Hollywood Burbank Airport.
Fortunately for Bricklin and her family of four, there wouldn’t be any military occupation in the Valley, however their luck stopped there. They now wake up to the sound of low-flying cargo planes in the morning and say they deal with a daily barrage of aircraft noise and emissions.
“The new way of life is you can’t spend time outside, you can’t swim in the pool, you can’t have friends over for family gatherings, you can’t watch a movie in certain rooms of the house,” said Bricklin. She explained that jet emissions collect on the surface of her pool.
Planes don’t just fly low, they now follow a concentrated flight path straight to Studio City before finally gaining altitude. New routes concentrated flights over a narrower corridor of San Fernando Valley communities, instead of having flights take off and gain altitude immediately after takeoff.
Now Bricklin says she and her family began experiencing health issues due to noise, lack of sleep and jet emissions.
“There are times when I won’t drive because I’m so tired. I have migraine headaches where I never had them before. My family has terrible headaches. My daughter and my son were not able to do homework,” said Bricklin.
The Citizens Advisory Committee was initially designed to include residents like Bricklin in unrestricted discussion.
Commissioners explained that the public section of regular meetings are open to the public, and many on the panel said that they felt the public comment period was sufficient for those Los Angeles residents who wished to voice problems with aircraft noise.
Glendale Commissioner Frank Quintero echoed that sentiment, adding to his statements that he sympathizes with Studio City residents, validating that frequent noise complaints are based on real concerns.
“Since we are a local entity, it’s much easier to reach out to us and to tell us what the situation is in their neighborhood. And I agree with them. … Certainly, the callers aren’t making it up. It’s a horrible situation for them.”
Quintero and others on the panel said that the Airport Authority had little influence over the FAA’s decision to change or maintain flightpaths.
“Again, it’s the FAA, the federally elected officials, the congress people and the senators,” said Quintero. “That’s where you can make an impact. You have got to get to them and get them to change the FAA’s pattern of doing business on takeoffs. It’s not just the San Fernando Valley, this is happening all across the country.”
Airport noise abatement advocates Studio City for Quiet Skies organized ahead of the meeting, calling on the BGPAA to keep Los Angeles residents on the Citizens Advisory Committee.
“The only purpose of the Los Angeles voices is to provide you with the truth and with updates about how bad Burbank’s exported noise is. … The only reason to remove L.A. members would be if you wish to remain an insulated body that is afraid of the truth,” said SCFQS officials. “Please ask yourself, are you afraid of the truth?”
Residents, in addition to the city of Los Angeles, have sued the FAA over the flight paths and other environmental concerns, including the environmental review of its new replacement passenger terminal, construction on which began in January.
BGPAA Vice President Ara Najarian directed his words at the city of Los Angeles, implicating residents in the city’s legal decisions, and citing those decisions as his personal motivation to vote to approve the removal of L.A. residents from the committee.
“Someone raised the words ‘collaboration’ and ‘cooperation’ and ‘partnerships.’ … nothing could be further from the truth in terms of what the city of L.A. has done to this Airport Authority. And let’s not use those words, you know, flippantly. The city of L.A. used this Airport Authority as a whipping boy to get to the FAA,” Najarian said. Najarian also sits on the Glendale City Council.
“This authority in no way controls the flight patterns. But that didn’t stop the city of Los Angeles from putting the screws on us, through a CEQA challenge about our replacement passenger terminal. The defense of which cost us … well over $100,000, if not even more.”
Studio City for Quiet Skies advocates provided a response to Najarian’s comments in a statement to the News-Press:
“Our organization has been trying to move the flight paths back, with historical dispersal, since they were moved 2.3 miles south in 2017, simply because the commission failed to act when only a simple letter to the FAA in 2015 would have averted this whole situation. Commissioner Najarian’s comments were untrue and inappropriate. He stated the private part, vengeance, out loud,” said SCFQS officials.
The Airport Authority’s legal counsel clarified that the lawsuit was actually filed against the FAA, but that the Hollywood Burbank Airport joined following initial filings.
“The lawsuit filed by the city of L.A. was to block the new terminal project, and it was a NEPA lawsuit, so, the facts, just technicalities, but your point is well taken that in fact, the airport did have to intervene in that lawsuit, did have to spend a fair amount of legal fees to fight that fight, to be able to proceed with the new terminal project,” said BGPAA legal staff.
Following further discussion, the Airport Authority voted to approve the resolution removing the three proposed Los Angeles representatives from the Citizens Advisory Committee.

First published in the March 30 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

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