Voters to weigh in on Hollywood Burbank Airport terminal

Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority officials are inching closer to having a 14-gate replacement-terminal project go before Burbank voters.

The Burbank City Council voted 4-1, with Councilman David Gordon dissenting, to approve the first reading of ordinances and resolutions that would allow airport officials to move forward with the project during a special meeting Monday night.

The authority’s final environmental-impact report, a development agreement it has with the city and the right for the authority to build on a site on the northeast section of the airfield will need to be approved again during a meeting on Aug. 1 in order for council members to call for a Measure B election, if they decide to take that action at all.

Under Measure B, Burbank residents must approve any project on the northeast site, known on the B-6 parcel, which is where authority members prefer to construct a 355,000-square-foot, 14-gate terminal.

Council members deliberated on Tuesday whether to have Measure B placed on the Nov. 8 ballot or wait until the April 2017 election.

The majority of council members found no major issues with the project’s environmental-impact report, which analyzed the potential impacts of building a replacement terminal on the B-6 parcel. The document also analyzed potential impacts if the authority decided to construct a 355,000-square-foot or a 232,000-square-foot terminal, both with 14 gates, on the southwest section of the airport.

Airport officials have said that if voters reject building the terminal at the B-6 plot, they would construct the new facility on the southwest corner of the airfield, which they say does not require voter approval because the airport owns the property.

Most of the council members also did not find any major faults with the development agreement, which lays out the powers and responsibilities of each agency during and after construction of the terminal.

A major condition that the agreement would establish is creating a super-majority voting requirement among the authority’s nine commissioners on major issues, such as increasing the number of gates, expansion of the terminal, acquiring land or entering into a long-term contract.

Currently, only a simple majority is needed on those issues, but now two members from each of the three cities on authority must give their OK.

However, Gordon said that the development agreement, specifically the proposed condition, offers no protection for the city of Burbank. He added that issues such as building more gates or making the terminal larger, should come before the City Council.

Gordon said he was not happy with the package altogether, saying there was very little input from residents and that the authority did not provide enough information about the project.

“I do not believe there has been adequate discussion and review publicly [of the project],” he said. “I do not believe there is adequate public input by an informed community on this.”

Though Gordon disagreed with the details of the project, his colleagues commended city and airport authority staff for presenting a proposal that many said would not have been possible several years ago, when there was more contention surrounding a new terminal.

“My primary goal was to take care of the residents of Burbank,” Mayor Jess Talamantes said. “I wanted to give them protection — look them in the eye and say that we’ve got a great deal here. It’s not perfect, but you have to remember that perfect is the enemy of the good.”

The airport authority has been looking to replace the current terminal, which was built in the 1930s, because it does not meet current seismic standards or modern Federal Aviation Administration standards.

By Anthony Clark Carpio, Burbank Leader