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Wednesday, Sep 27, 2023

After Years, Van Nuys Airport Plan to Go Before Board

After Years, Van Nuys Airport Plan to Go Before Board By BRAD SMITH Staff Reporter When the Los Angeles City Council approved a proposal to develop a new master plan for Van Nuys Airport, George Bush was in the White House. Of course, it was George H. W. Bush, not George W. Bush. “It is an extraordinary thing,” said Coby King, an Encino attorney and political consultant who serves on the Van Nuys Airport Citizens Advisory Council. “You don’t know whether to laugh or cry.” The city-owned airport, which has been in operation since 1928, today is the busiest general aviation airfield in the world. In 1999, the last time the city’s airport department totaled up the figures, analysts estimated the facility generated $1.2 billion in economic activity. The Council voted to create a new master plan, designed to guide development at the city-owned airport, in April, 1992. A draft of the document, designed to guide development at the airfield for the next 20 years, may go to the panel in 2005 13 years after the effort began. “It has been a work in progress,” said Richard French, with Los Angeles World Airport’s Public Affairs section. Before it goes to the council, however, the proposal will have to negotiate the Board of Airport Commissioners, the city Planning Commission, the mayor’s office, and the Council’s planning and transportation committees. The Airport Board should consider the plan this fall, possibly this month, French said; if they do, there would be at least four months of review and public hearings before the City Council could consider the document. That kind of timeline, however, is nothing out of the ordinary for development at the airport, which has often been stalled by opposition from residents of the surrounding neighborhoods., observers said. In April, for example, the city broke ground on a new facility for fire and police helicopters on the former Guard site. “One of the realities of Van Nuys airport is that whatever you do is going to make some people unhappy,” King said. “Fifty years ago, the Valley was a semi-rural place jets were not in general use and the impacts were not what they are today,” he said. “Now that it’s the busiest general aviation airport in the world sitting in the middle of the largest urban area in the world, the balance between the economic impact of the airport and the impacts on the neighborhoods around it is always going to be very delicate.” Under the current proposal, known as “Alternative J’, the city would set 35 acres of the airfield much of the former ANG site that faces Balboa Blvd. on the west side of the property aside for propeller-driven aircraft, rather than the often noisier jets that generate much of the neighborhood opposition. New development would be directed to the northern and eastern sides of the field. Overall, the draft provides for a compromise between developers and residents, King said. “This doesn’t provide the most money for the city but there is a strong public policy incentive for doing this,” King said. “It would allow additional jets to come onto the airport; not as many as some people would like to see, but it would allow for moderate and orderly growth.” Airport Master Plan The goal of the Master Plan is to guide the orderly development and land use of currently vacant or underutilized property at Van Nuys Airport for the next 20 years. The plan will develop a long-term guide for use of the airport that reflects the best use of airport property while minimizing adverse impact on the community. -Master Plan Study initiated by Los Angeles City Council – April, 1992 -Public Meetings and Workshops – 1995 -EIR preparation – 1996-2000 -City Planning Workshop and Public Hearing – March 2001 -Los Angeles County Land Use Commission Meeting – March 2002 -Draft plan to City Council – 2005 Source: Los Angeles World Airports

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