Local city government and airport officials were in Washington, D.C. this week to brief senior Federal Aviation Administration officials on a “conceptual term sheet” that outlines certain conditions for the possible construction of a 14-gate replacement terminal at Bob Hope Airport. They also broached the topic of a mandatory nighttime curfew at the airfield.
During the meeting Wednesday in the office of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), who had arranged the sit-down, an FAA official told local representatives he had no immediate concerns about the outlined terms, which officials from both Burbank and the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority endorsed last month, Burbank Mayor Bob Frutos said.
“It was an extremely positive meeting and an opportunity for the cities and airport authority to explain the importance of FAA support,” Frutos said in a statement earlier this week. “While FAA officials said that they cannot prejudge any deal, associate administrator Eduardo Angeles said that the FAA saw no red flags in the conceptual outline.”
Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes called the gathering a “historic meeting,” and the first time that Schiff and members of the authority and the city of Burbank have met with the FAA to work together on airport issues. Burbank City Atty. Amy Albano and the city’s outside attorney on the airport issue, Peter Kirsch, also attended the meeting.
Airport Authority board President Frank Quintero of Glendale, Burbank Commissioner Don Brown, Glendale Commissioner Zareh Sinanyan, the airport’s executive director Dan Feger and attorney Tom Ryan were also at the meeting.
Representatives of Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena, as well as the airport authority, also asked federal officials to allow a mandatory curfew at the airfield, something Burbank officials have been seeking for more than four decades. A mandatory curfew at the Burbank airfield would bar all landings and departures between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Currently, a voluntary curfew is in place during those hours for commercial passenger flights, but according to a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a Burbank ordinance banning overnight takeoffs, local governments cannot enact mandatory curfews because Congress has given the FAA and Environmental Protection Agency full control over aircraft noise.
The FAA rejected a proposal for a mandatory curfew in 2009, which airport authority officials had submitted after completing a nine-year, nearly $7-million study that estimated between 2008 and 2015, the restriction would have generated roughly $9 million more in benefits for the public, such as increased home values, than it would have cost airlines, passengers, cargo carriers and general aviation.
At the time, however, federal officials said the curfew was not reasonable and would “create an undue burden on commerce,” among other objections.
During a phone interview on Friday, Frutos said he felt the agency didn’t give a “flat-out no” to the idea of a mandatory curfew and seemed open to a conversation about what has changed since the 2009 proposal.
Schiff’s efforts to enact a curfew legislatively at the federal level have failed, so far, though an attempt in 2014 made it to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, and it was struck down by a narrow margin of only four votes.
The congressman said Friday he is coordinating with the city and the airport on “the best means of obtaining noise relief,” but he is also strategizing with his colleagues in Congress on how to address similar issues they face in their communities.
“I don’t think we’ve taken anything off the table,” he said.