Hollywood Burbank Airport is beloved by air travelers — but it is cramped, outdated, and obsolete, and could be heavily damaged in an earthquake.
On Tuesday, Burbank voters will choose whether to approve a plan to replace the terminal at what was formerly known as Bob Hope Airport.
And if Measure B wins a majority of votes, the plan would also ratify a historic truce between city elected officials and the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, whose legendary feud goes back decades.
The replacement terminal would have the same number of gates, 14. It would be built north of the existing terminal, partly on vacant land and partly on a long-term parking lot, Economy Lot A. The number of parking spaces would remain unchanged, and the old terminal would be demolished.
Among the problems at the existing terminal is the lack of a lobby in the baggage claim, and tiny ticketing and security checkpoint areas.
The current building is so close to the runway that it does not meet federal design safety standards. The airport has already moved its rental car facility farther away because it was dangerously close to the runway.
More space for restaurants and concessions is also proposed. And one of the airport’s beloved charms — the ability to board from both ends of the aircraft — would remain.
Burbank’s elected officials and the airport authority have fought for decades over the scale of a replacement building. Airport officials have long sought a new terminal since aerospace giant Lockheed Corp. sold it in 1978.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, plans were drafted for a new terminal with 19 gates and a possible expansion to 27 gates. Burbank officials vehemently opposed airport growth, and airport officials eventually abandoned the expansion plan.
Both sides have since agreed that the replacement terminal be kept to 14 gates. But there was still a sticking point: Burbank officials wanted to essentially have veto power over major decisions.
Burbank wants a different voting structure on the airport authority board for certain hot-button issues, such as increasing the number of gates. Burbank wants to change the rules so that two of the three representatives from each city on the board need to approve such major changes. The city calls it "consensus voting."
So a deal was struck.
If voters approve Measure B, the city of Burbank gets its effective veto power, and the airport authority is allowed to build at its preferred site north of the existing terminal.
If voters reject the measure, Burbank will not getveto power on the airport authority board, and the result will probably be an ongoing legal fight.
The airport authority could attempt to construct a new terminal on a less desirable site now used for general aviation, southwest of the airfield. The authority says it can do the construction there without city permission if needed, because it is already zoned for that purpose. City officials say that is a legally disputed issue.
Four of the five Burbank City Council members back Measure B.
If voters approve Measure B, a new terminal could open in about seven years.