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Tuesday, Oct 3, 2023


burbank/dy/18″/mike1st/jc2nd By DOUGLAS YOUNG Staff Reporter Seeking to end costly litigation, Burbank city officials have resumed negotiations with the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority over plans for a larger terminal complex. The renewed talks, which began June 13 and will run through mid-August, follow 10 months of acrimony, during which no talks were held and the two sides pursued various legal maneuvers. The discussions are focused on resolving the main issues of contention the number of gates a proposed new terminal would have, a proposed night time curfew and limits on passenger growth. Burbank Mayor Bob Kramer, who took the initiative to resume talks in May, said he will give the latest round of negotiations until mid-August to see if there is any measurable progress. Both Kramer and Airport Authority officials were cautiously upbeat about progress in the talks so far, though any agreement that’s reached would still face the additional hurdle of having to receive approval from the Burbank City Council. Kramer, who ran for City Council on a strong anti-airport expansion platform, said his recent move to resolve the issue represents less a change of heart and more a desire to resolve the conflict in a constructive manner. “If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that all the name calling and animosity haven’t paid off at all,” he said. “It’s going to be much more beneficial to work out an agreement than to sue each other constantly.” A confidentiality agreement prohibits both Burbank and the Airport Authority officials from talking publicly about the specific discussions at the two meetings so far, on June 13 and June 18. A third meeting has been slated for July 9. “Kramer has set a window to see if we’re making some headway in the next 30 to 60 days (from the initial talks),” said Burbank City Manager Bud Ovrom, one of three Burbank delegates at the recent talks. “He wants to use that time to find if there’s any common ground. If we can’t make a breakthrough in the next 30 to 60 days, it will be back to the courtroom.” Meanwhile, Carl Raggio, one of three delegates from the Airport Authority, was upbeat about the progress so far. “You need to applaud (Kramer) because he’s bringing this to the table where it belongs and wants to come out with something that’s mutually beneficial to everyone,” said Raggio. “I’m encouraged by Mayor Kramer’s attitude towards this.” Kramer said the fact that both sides have agreed to a third meeting should “send a signal to anyone that this hasn’t been a waste of time.” Ovrom was similarly optimistic: “I feel we are making headway and am pretty optimistic about our chances of finding a mutually acceptable solution.” The Airport Authority would like to build a new, greatly expanded terminal with no flight curfew, as many as 27 gates and no cap on future growth in passenger traffic. Burbank officials, on the other hand, would like to impose a 10 p.m.-to-7 a.m. curfew, limit the number of gates to 16 and cap passenger growth to 10 percent over 1996 levels. Neither side had been willing to yield ground until the recent resumption of talks, and instead the two were waging a courtroom battle through a series of lawsuits and counter suits. Burbank spent an estimated $3.5 million in legal fees to fight the expansion last year, while the Airport Authority spent between $1 million and $1.5 million. The Authority has budgeted another $1.2 million for legal expenses this year, and Burbank previously said it has budgeted $3 million for legal fees in 1997. The Burbank City Council, which would have to approve any deal, previously voted 4-1 to let Kramer negotiate on Burbank’s behalf, with the lone dissent vote coming from Councilmember Ted McConkey. But Kramer also insisted on a confidentiality clause as part of the agreement, which means no one on the City Council will know the terms of any compromise until one is announced. Of the four City Council members besides himself, Kramer will have to convince at least two to approve any agreement he reaches with the Airport Authority. Chances are good that Councilmember Bill Wiggins will go along with whatever agreement Kramer negotiates, according to Ovrom. Meanwhile, the agreement must also be acceptable to at least one of two other councilmembers, either Stacey Murphy or Dave Galonski, since McConkey is unlikely to vote for any kind of expansion agreement. “(Kramer) didn’t get any direction from the council over what he should be mediating,” said McConkey. “It seems to me that’s a complete betrayal of what we promised the city of Burbank when we took office.”

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