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Sunday, Jul 14, 2024

Commentary

By JAMES A. DUNN Success in running a business means knowing how to solve problems. Business owners at Van Nuys Airport are now faced with a problem: the possibility of severe restrictions on their operations at the airport. Los Angeles officials make deals every day to entice new business to our region, cutting red tape and giving tax incentives for large companies that contribute to the local economy and create jobs. But the City Council is considering placing constraints on flight operations at Van Nuys Airport that would force aviation businesses to either close down or move. Businesses at the airport employ more than 3,400 workers on the field and pump almost a billion dollars into the economy each year. A small group of emotional anti-airport activists has spent day and night trying to convince elected officials to restrict the use of Van Nuys Airport. This handful of people sends letters to the editor and editorials to the local newspapers, trying to convince their San Fernando Valley neighbors that Van Nuys Airport is an ever-expanding monster. Five individuals submit about 80 percent of the complaints lodged against aircraft at Van Nuys Airport. The City Council is now considering a proposal to limit airport operations in response to that handful of anti-airport activists. Airport businesses recognize that we have residential neighbors. There are both morning and nighttime curfews at Van Nuys Airport. Stage II planes, which are older aircraft, are not permitted to take off from Van Nuys between 7 a.m. or after 10 p.m. Businesses at Van Nuys Airport agreed in 1997 to a voluntary extension of the flight curfew, which formerly started at 11 p.m. Although they knew they would lose some business, the operators willingly gave up an hour of flight time to continue a positive working relationship with the Department of Airports and local residents. Van Nuys Airport businesses have worked hard to be a good neighbor. For the past five years, pilots using Van Nuys Airport have participated in the “Fly Friendly” program, in which pilots reduce their power setting on takeoff to the minimum safe level while departing the Valley area. The “Fly Friendly” program has been very successful in reducing the noise “footprint,” the area around the airport which is most affected by noise. The footprint has decreased steadily over the last several years. The city department has recently recommended soundproofing homes close to Van Nuys Airport, as has been done with homes near LAX and Burbank. Much of the funding for this project will come from the federal government. We support this solution wholeheartedly. More than a year ago, the city’s Airport Commission requested an economic study on proposed regulations at Van Nuys Airport. The Van Nuys Airport Citizens’ Advisory Committee, homeowners, and airport businesses agreed that this was critical information to review before making a policy decision. Released in December, the study shows that the proposal to restrict flight operations would devastate business at Van Nuys and the surrounding area. Emotional anti-airport activists call the study “biased.” We learned through this study, conducted by a highly respected consultant in the field of aviation business, that Van Nuys Airport businesses are a major contributor to the economy of the San Fernando Valley, providing thousands of jobs and generating millions of dollars in the region. Van Nuys Airport businesses create a domino effect within the area. Nearby restaurants, vendors and service providers depend on the continued success of the airport for their success. More than 3,000 people depend directly on the businesses at the airport for their livelihood. If the Los Angeles City Council were to place certain restrictions on businesses at Van Nuys Airport, many will respond by simply moving their operations to Burbank Airport, just six miles to the east. The revenue and the jobs will move to Burbank and the problem will not have been solved, The Studio City and Valley Village Homeowners groups, along with several San Fernando Valley chambers of commerce, have called for a regional solution to aircraft flights in the East Valley. Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, who represents much of the southern part of the Valley, recently called for a cooperative and balanced approach to solving Van Nuys Airport’s problems, and East Valley residents (concerned with Burbank Airport as well) rightfully agree with her proposal. The Van Nuys Airport Association is committed to working with the Department of Airports and local residents to find a reasonable and acceptable solution to the issues at hand. We hope the City Council and our neighbors will recognize the contributions that Van Nuys Airport makes as we work together to find solutions. James A. Dunn is president of the Van Nuys Airport Association, a group that represents more than 3,400 employees and 100 businesses at or near the airport.

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