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City and airport reach agreement

June 26, 2004

Josh Kleinbaum

A preliminary deal between the governing body at Bob Hope Airport and

the city of Burbank could cause noise levels to go down, parking

rates to go up and a decade of tension to disappear.

The Burbank-Glendale- Pasadena Airport Authority announced the

10-term deal Wednesday, ensuring that the airport will not build a

new terminal in the next 10 years or add any gates for the next seven

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years.

In return, the city will retain the current zoning during the

seven-year span, allow the airport to extend the taxiway on its

east-west runway and approve the airport's $41.5-million purchase of

a 27-acre parking lot on the corner of Hollywood Way and Empire

Avenue.

The airport and the city, which have had bitter legal battles over

a new terminal since the FAA recommended building one in 1980, will

work together to develop a noise- reduction strategy.

"It's nice that there's certainty," said Charles Lombardo,

president of the Airport Authority. "There will be peace for the next

10 years."

The Airport Authority began pursuing a deal last year, when the

FAA rescinded its recommendation to build a new terminal. With an

interim city ordinance that restricts development at the airport set

to expire in August, the authority wanted to make sure the city did

not adopt a permanent restriction.

The key to the deal is Star Park, the 27-acre parking lot that

opened in January 2003, transferring to the airport more than 2,000

parking spaces, which will be converted to valet parking. The

overflow of supply over demand forced the Airport Authority to lower

its long-term parking prices from $9 per day to $5 per day, and the

airport's parking revenue dropped by nearly $3 million in the past

two years.

In 2003, the airport removed a crosswalk connecting Star Park to

Terminal B, and airport police began ticketing pedestrians for

crossing the street. The authority sued Zelman Development Companies,

owner of Star Park, over vehicular and pedestrian access to the

airport from Star Park. The authority will drop the lawsuit when the

purchase closes escrow.

"We all worked together for six months to get this resolved,"

Zelman president Ben Reiling said. "We have a tremendous stake in the

city and hope to see everyone prosper."

After buying the lot, the airport will move its long-term valet

parking lot and rental car lot to the Star Park site. This will

eliminate 2,200 parking spaces, returning the parking supply to its

2002 levels, and reduce traffic on Hollywood Way and Empire Avenue,

where the long-term valet and rental car lots are located.

Earlier this month, the airport announced plans to hike rates

anywhere from 20% to 40%. Long-term rates would increase to $7 per

day if increased by 40%. When the Star Park deal goes through, rates

could go even higher.

The airport will issue bonds to pay for the lot, which Zelman

purchased from Lockheed Martin Corp. in 1999 for $20 million. Because

of a 1999 court ruling -- the result of one of 12 lawsuits between

the Airport Authority and Burbank over a potential new terminal from

1995 to 1999 -- the Airport Authority needs Burbank's approval for

any land-use changes, including property purchases. As part of the

deal, Burbank will approve the Star Park sale and the taxiway

extension, which will prevent planes from taxiing on the runway.

Reporter Jackson Bell contributed to this story.

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