PERSPECTIVE-The Valley Village Homeowners Association made its presentation to the Burbank Airport Task Noise Force the night of January 15 at the Burbank Airport Marriott.
Over the course of four meetings (including the current one) following the Task Force’s inaugural session covering by-laws and administrative procedures, there have been eight presentations from groups representing Studio City, Sherman Oaks and Encino. They shared the same message – all flight departure paths should stay north of the 101.
I was there with VVHA’s president, Beth Fulton, to present our opposing point of view. With only two meetings remaining, it was critical to introduce the perspective of the North Valley.
We explained that noise should be shared over the greater East Valley in a manner which would not jeopardize safety; that exempting Studio City and the southern portion of Sherman Oaks from bearing any of the annoyance was unacceptable.
At the conclusion of our presentation, Task Force panel member Brent Robinson, District Director for Senator Kamala Harris asked, “I didn’t see what formal changes you wanted (to the flight paths).”
He had mentioned that all the other groups had proposed specific changes.
We expressed our surprise at the question and replied that no group or individual in the room had the expertise to suggest any flight path modifications.
If he is placing any reliance on the recommendations made by groups such as Studio City for Quiet Skies and UpRoarLA, then he needs a reality check. Designing modifications must be in the hands of aviation professionals – those who have flown and controlled the skies over the Valley – not armchair advocates pushing a one-sided agenda.
Our concern was, and will always be, about pushing the entire problem north.
Later, Beth succinctly defined our desirable outcome as, “The least amount of impact, for the least number of communities, in the safest possible manner.” This should also be the objective of the Task Force when developing recommendations.
Robinson challenged our assertion about lack of fair representation for the communities north of the 101. He said all of those communities are represented by the present members of the task force. We pointed out that it is disingenuous to assume official representation correlates with the interests of all constituents.
Having attended all the meetings of the task force, it has been evident that certain members, most notably Krekorian and Koretz, have shown partiality towards the two Studio City groups in the previous meetings. To be fair, on this night, Mr. Koretz did at least acknowledge that the accuracy of previously sited complaint data needs to be reviewed. Based on statistics we shared with the task force from the Daily News and the New York Times, the complaints appear to be way out of proportion with the actual number of residents filing them (see my previous article).
Krekorian once again exposed his “send the noise elsewhere” leaning when he asked us whether we would favor departures head east, that is towards Pasadena and Glendale.
Beth reminded him that those are densely populated communities as well. I noted the safety concerns (raised by Captain McMullin at the last meeting) related to high terrain in that direction.
We are not against eastbound departures if they represent one component of a broader sharing strategy, but only if safety is not compromised. By no means should San Gabriel Valley neighborhoods be subjected to a disproportionate amount of noise any more than communities in the San Fernando Valley.
Krekorian challenged my take on his endorsement of UpRoarLA’s objective. He said he was merely supporting their “F.A.I.R.” mantra.
Our back and forth discussion had to be cut at this point because of time constraints. The hotel is strict about shutting down at 9:30, and there was other business on the agenda that had to be covered.
My response would have been to refresh Mr. Krekorian’s memory about “F.A.I.R.”
The “R” stands for revert to pre-Next Gen departure paths. Reverting would amount to pushing the departure paths north of the 101, a position clearly supported by UpRoarLA and other groups who appeared before the task force over the course of the meetings. This has been very evident in their arguments, the implications of which were never challenged.
Here are examples of what we’ve seen:
At an absolute minimum, reverting commercial air carrier departures north of the 101 would increase noise over the north by at least 19%, which is the volume growth since 2017. Once again, that’s the absolute minimum. The proposals shown above would amount to a 100% shift.
I will also add that the “I” in F.A.I.R. stands for “Include SFV Community in solving the problem,” according to the UpRoarLA web site. Community in their view means south of the 101 and the hillsides.
The task force by-laws state: Task Force has been created to provide a forum for representatives of communities that are currently affected, and those that could be potentially affected, by aircraft procedural and operational changes related to aircraft noise in the southern San Fernando Valley.”
Krekorian, Ryu and Koretz have ignored this requirement. No communication concerning what’s at stake has ever been relayed to their constituents.
One can argue over where the southern SFV ends, but any reasonable person would assume it extends beyond the 101. Regardless of how the boundary is defined, a change in one area would produce a ripple effect throughout the entire region. Hence, the entire North Valley fits the definition of “potentially affected.”
Krekorian, whose district covers most of the currently and potentially affected neighborhoods, should be especially keen to communicating with all areas. He has been reminded of this before, but to no avail. As of the submission date of this article, no outreach on the subject has been conducted.
To paraphrase George Orwell, “Some constituents are more equal than others.” That appears to be the CD2 councilman’s point of view.
Other meeting notes
A group identifying itself as “Parents of LAUSD Students” represented just one single school – Carpenter Charter Elementary, located squarely in Studio City. Not exactly transparent.
However, we do agree with the group’s recommendation that the LAUSD be represented on the task force. Scott Schmerelson would be the logical choice for a seat.
There was a data-rich presentation by Burbank for Quiet Skies which raised some important issues concerning noise curfews, especially comparing rules between Burbank and John Wayne. These are worth exploring, but there appear to be legal hurdles to resolve before changes can be made to Burbank’s policy.
The next hearing is scheduled for February 19th, 6:30-9:30 at the Burbank Airport Marriott. Parking is validated.
To the best of my knowledge, there will be no further community presentations. My preference for the remaining meetings would be for more professional testimony and an open discussion among the Task Force members.
I expect public comments will still be welcome.
(Paul Hatfield is a CPA and former President of the Valley Village Homeowners Association. He blogs at Village to Village and contributes to CityWatch. The views presented are those of Mr. Hatfield and his alone and do not represent the opinions of Valley Village Homeowners Association or CityWatch. He can be reached at: [email protected].)