Before he was even in office, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was looking for a way to fulfill one of his campaign promises, asking the city attorney’s office for a legal opinion on whether or not the city can stop certain aircraft from using Van Nuys Airport. Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that a general aviation airport in Naples, Fla. was justified in banning so-called “Stage 2” jets from using the airport, and is expected to be paid more than $9 million in grant money that the Federal Aviation Industry had been withholding while protesting the ban. The city attorney’s office reported that it was looking into the matter, but has not yet responded to the mayor. Gerald Silver, president of the Encino Homeowner’s association, has been one of the people lobbying for years to phase out Stage 2 jets at Van Nuys Airport, says that Villaraigosa seems to be working hard to fulfill his promise to provide some relief to surrounding residents. “The two previous mayors were totally out of step with a lot of the public, they were very pro-aviation and worked aggressively behind the scenes to make sure that Stage 2 jets were never phased out at the airport,” said Silver. “Homeowners are not asking for the airport to be closed down, that’s kind of red herring that’s been thrown around. What they’re asking for is fair balance in the interest of resident and homeowners.” The city’s current policy is to not add any new Stage 2 (louder) jets at Van Nuys, and to phase out usage of them completely by 2011. Robert Rodine, a member of the Van Nuys Airport Citizens Advisory Council with Silver, and co-chair of VICA’s Aviation Committee, said that he thinks the mayor is failing to consider the economic impact of banning jets. “I think the mayor intends to rid the airport of Stage 2 jets, which portends very bad times for business during the next four years,” said Rodine. The local economy stand to lose about $79.9 million per year, along with an additional $1 million loss in city property taxes, should Stage 2 jets be banned at Van Nuys, according to a study that Rodine completed in 1997. “What I think is more dangerous than that is that a lot of Valley businesspeople supported the mayor with the expectation that he was going to be a business friendly mayor. I don’t see this as a business friendly act,” Rodine said. The issue of airport noise, he said, is not of serious enough concern to most Valley residents to warrant a complete ban of Stage 2 aircraft, Rodine said. “If you compare any Stage 2 jet with a 747 or another large commercial airliner, any Stage 2 jet in America today is quieter because stage classing is based on noise per pound. If you have an exceptionally light aircraft that produces 75 decibels, that’s a little bit noisier than the level of speech,” he said.