Burbank residents might have the opportunity to vote on a replacement terminal for Bob Hope Airport in the November 2016 election.
The City Council at Tuesday night’s meeting will likely endorse a document, officially called the Airport Conceptual Term Sheet, that is essentially the groundwork for a formal agreement for a replacement terminal with the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, which oversees the airport. The city made the document public last week, and airport authority officials are scheduled to vote on the document on Nov. 2.
“It really all simply boils down to this: this term sheet outlines the basic tenets to which Burbank and the airport authority would enter into an agreement,” Dan Feger, the airport authority’s executive director, said in an interview Monday. “I think it is safe to say, the airport authority is solidly behind this conceptual term sheet.”
Unless the city council changes it tomorrow night, Feger said he had every reason to believe there would be a “unanimous endorsement on Nov. 2.
“It is up to the city council — if they are ready to move forward on this monumental milestone, the commission is ready to go there, too.”
Built in 1930, the existing terminal no longer meets current seismic standards and some parts of the building are too close to runways and do not meet current FAA requirements, the airport authority says.
Burbank Mayor Bob Frutos declined to comment on the conceptual term sheet on Monday, saying he wanted to respect the process and would discuss it after the council meeting Tuesday.
The city’s conceptual term sheet is “a simple outline of elements that, if endorsed by Council and the Authority, will be the cornerstone for the many legal documents needed for approval of a 14-gate replacement terminal,” the document states.
Measure B requires a public vote to validate any agreements for an expanded or relocated airport terminal project, and the replacement terminal will be built north of the existing terminal, on roughly 49 acres.
An environmental review is also part of the process for a replacement terminal, and Feger said airport officials are prepared to begin that process on Nov. 2. The findings of an environmental review, or Environmental Impact Report (EIR), are made public, and residents have a certain amount of time to review the report and comment on it.
“It is doable,” Feger said. “Is it a lot of time? No. Are we pushing? Yes.”
Feger said the EIR process should be fairly straightforward.
In 2013, an EIR was begun for a replacement terminal and for the 59-acre Opportunity Site, but was very complicated, he said. Now that the airport has put that parcel up for sale it does not need to be a part of the EIR for the replacement terminal, and a new EIR process will be much simpler.
There are permanent protections for the city of Burbank through a change in governance, with what is called supermajority voting, for those measures identified in the term sheet that could affect the quality of life in Burbank, Feger said.
Indeed, the city’s term sheet states “certain actions may only be taken if there is an affirmative vote by at least two Commissioners from each City (i.e. super majority voting).”
The document lists examples of situations that would require a consensus of the three cities’ appointees before action may be taken, including an increase in the number of commercial airline passenger gates above 14, and a change to the voluntary curfew or a change in enforcement.
Burbank is also asking that airport commissioners, along with city officials and councilmembers from the other cities, meet with the Federal Aviation Administration and Congressman Adam Schiff about a mandatory curfew and the proposal for the replacement terminal.
The term sheet is very similar to what was presented to the city council at a public, joint meeting with airport commissioners in July, but is more streamlined, Feger said, adding that the city condensed it into an easier-to-read document.
At the July meeting, Burbank Council Member Emily Gabel-Luddy said the airport’s location was unique in California, maybe even the country, as it pertains to rail and transit connections. She called the project an “opportunity, not a detriment to the community or traveling public.”
Another rail connection could open by summer 2016, Feger said, as Metrolink is scheduled to start construction next year on a second station at the airport. The station will be a part of the Antelope Valley Line, and officials broke ground on the station in 2013.
An existing Metrolink station on the Ventura County Line stands on the south side of the airport at Empire Avenue.
As for the replacement terminal, Feger said: “It’s about time.”
He was hired as an airport engineer in 1998, and at the time, officials were discussing a split-terminal concept linked by a people mover. Lockheed was still making planes there, he said.
“This is monumental in the history of the airport,” Feger said. “I hope all parties, including voters, recognize it is the right step forward at this time.”