HomeCity NewsFAA to Reassess Noise Impact of New Airport Terminal

FAA to Reassess Noise Impact of New Airport Terminal

A court recently granted a petition to the city of Los Angeles in its appeal of the Federal Aviation Administration’s environmental impact study, particularly regarding noise, of building Hollywood Burbank Airport’s replacement terminal project. While the March 29 decision did not grant L.A.’s claims that the study insufficiently considered alternatives to the replacement terminal, the court did decide that the FAA did not appropriately consider noise effects of construction on nearby neighborhoods. As a result, the FAA was ordered need to reassess noise impacts related to terminal construction. In its ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals directed the FAA to “address the deficiency in its construction noise analysis, the resulting deficiency in its cumulative impacts analysis, and the resulting deficiency in its environmental impacts analysis.”

Hollywood Burbank Airport officials told the Leader that the replacement passenger terminal is still set to proceed with its current development timeline. “At this point, development of the terminal is still moving forward. Next Monday, April 17, is when the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority Commission is scheduled to make the final decision on the design concept,” said Nerissa Sugars, spokesperson for the airport. The replacement terminal, which is still in the planning phase, will have the same number of gates as the existing terminal — 14 — but will increase from 232,000 square feet to about 355,000 square feet. It will be built at the northeast end of the airport, replacing the existing almost 100-year-old terminal in the southeast. The passenger terminal at the Hollywood Burbank Airport is “more than 50 years old and violates safety standards set by the FAA,” U.S. Circuit Judge Stephen Higginson wrote in his opinion on the case. The current terminal building occupies the site of the original 1930 terminal. According to Higginson, after a 1966 fire, Lockheed Corporation rebuilt the terminal in the same spot. “However, by 1980, the reconstructed terminal no longer complied with FAA standards,” Higginson wrote. “It took the FAA and the [airport] authority more than three decades to find a solution,” he added. Then, Burbank voters approved Measure B, approving a replacement passenger terminal that the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority said would solve various safety problems. As part of the approval process, the FAA conducted an environmental study to analyze the impacts of a new terminal, assess alternatives and sign off on noise impacts that could affect nearby communities. The city of Los Angeles sued the FAA, citing that the environmental impact study did not sufficiently consider alternatives that would have less impact, and that the EIS outcome was predetermined.

RESIDENTS RALLY AGAINST NOISE Airport-related noise has long been a contentious topic among residents living near the airport, and those who live under Hollywood-Burbank Airport’s condensed flight path. Residents of San Fernando Valley communities spoke out at a recent BGPAA meeting Monday, expressing their continued disapproval of noise levels from the airport since the FAA shifted flight paths south in 2017 in accordance with satellite-based routes. As a result, planes now fly over homes that previously did not experience noise. The new flight paths involve a greater concentration of planes flying 5 to12 miles south of the 101 freeway than ever before. The number of flights coming out of the airport also increased between 2016 and today. “I’m here to remind you that we are still very much affected by this. … [Low flights] below the so-called mixing level are still affecting us tremendously at all hours. They are affecting our health, our property values and our businesses,” said Jane Gogh, a Studio City resident, during the meeting. Residents say that noise has gotten much worse since flight paths moved south. “Five years now we’ve been doing this,” said another resident, Jeanie Love. “I did not move under a flight path when we moved to [Studio City] 30 years ago. Do the right thing. Make a formal request to the FAA to go back to the original flight path.” Edith Becker, a Sherman Oaks resident, also addressed the panel: “It’s the first thing we hear when we get up in the morning, it’s the last thing we hear when we are trying to get to sleep at night. It’s really raining down noise pollution constantly.” Commentors also came out to address the board regarding the airfield safety and to prompt the panel to take action now that litigation is over. Laurie Richenburg, a San Fernando Valley resident, addressed BGPAA during its Monday meeting. “The airports have used the city of L.A. lawsuits as an excuse to do nothing. Now that the lawsuits are over, will you please do something to help your L.A. neighbors?” Richenburg asked. “Given the safety issues at the airport with near misses, the FAA’s inability to handle its business, how in good conscience can the Airport Authority’s leadership expand the terminal and dramatically increase the airport’s traffic?” asked Carol Mett, a Studio City resident, referencing recent aircraft near collisions. Commissioners did not respond to public comments during the meeting. The Hollywood Burbank Airport did not respond to the Leader’s request for comment by the publication’s deadline. First published in the April 8 print issue of the Burbank Leader. Edited April 11 to include a statement from the Hollywood Burbank Airport.

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