There’s a big difference between these two concepts, and always keep it in mind. There is no place in either Measure B or its extensive legislative history to justify the Burbank City Council taking any role in the airport approval process save that of implementing the prior wishes of the voters.
Individually they can do or say anything they want, but collectively they cannot get involved in making any joint decisions or signing or ratifying any agreements with the Authority prior to the vote. All they can do is throw it on the ballot for the voters to decide.
We mention this here only because there’s been a lot of talk the last few months about how Measure B somehow gives the Burbank voters final approval on a replacement terminal — as if staff and the council can cook up a deal by approving it first and then submitting it to these same voters for final ratification.
It doesn’t, and that’s not how it works. But that looks to be how the city council is now trying to handle things, and even Dave Golonski came down to the council chambers last November to protest this error of interpretation. He clearly went on record as saying that the council’s not supposed to get involved with a prior approval or vote of their own.
Interestingly, Measure B also requires voter approval for any replacement or expanded terminal. This by necessity includes the Southwest Quadrant, which everyone is now saying is immune to Burbank interference or control.
In a general sense this is true, so far as it goes. But if the Authority needs any kind of discretionary concessions there from Burbank, such as a CUP or AUP, or even a building code decision that has to go their way, the Burbank voters are required to have prior approval in the decision.
The council can’t waive this away either for any fallback “Southwest Quadrant” project, which they look to be trying to do this week with all this talk about granting the Authority “vested” rights there.
That’s not our opinion. It’s the law:
2-3-112: AIRPORT AGREEMENTS:
No approval by the City of Burbank of any agreement between the City and the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority for a relocated or expanded airport terminal project, or any other discretionary act by the City relating to the approval of a relocated or expanded airport terminal project shall be valid and effective unless previously approved by the voters voting at a City election. [Added by Ord. No. 3541 (Measure B approved by the voters on 11/7/00), eff. 5/24/00.]
Notice the phrase “or expanded.” That means ANYTHING bigger than what they already have. And the term “any other discretionary act by the City” also has meaning.
Now the airport boosters aren’t going to be telling you any of this, and they’re probably also not going to care too much about following the express terms of Measure B. It looks like they haven’t so far post-Barlow, who btw actually wrote a very good ballot statement on this back in the year 2000. He knew that logically and legally the conditioning factor had to be prior voter approval and not afterwards.
We’ll repeat in full what the Burbank voters at the time were told about the Measure B referendum:
Shall proposed Section 11-112 be added to the Burbank Municipal Code? This Section would require prior voter approval of any discretionary act of the City or agreement between the City and the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority for a relocated or expanded airport terminal project in order for such act or agreement to be valid and effective.
Impartial Analysis from the City Attorney
The City of Burbank and the Burbank– Glendale– Pasadena Airport (the “Airport”) have been involved in a lengthy dispute regarding the Airport’s proposed construction of a new passenger terminal. The Burbank City Council supports the idea of replacing the existing terminal, but only if the Airport agrees to certain conditions limiting the growth and impacts of the Airport.
This ballot measure would add Section 11– 112 to the Burbank Municipal Code. If passed, this ballot measure would require the City to obtain the approval of the majority of voters voting in an election prior to the City granting the Airport any discretionary approvals or entering into an agreement related to a relocated or expanded Airport terminal project. In other words, no discretionary act or agreement by the City to approve a relocated or expanded Airport terminal would be valid and effective unless previously approved by a majority of voters.
Thus, this ballot measure would require the City to hold a special municipal election, submitting the issue on the ballot for the approval of the voters, prior to granting the Airport any discretionary approvals or entering into an agreement related to a relocated or expanded Airport terminal. Although the exact costs are unknown, it is estimated that, at the present time, the City’s costs for holding such special municipal election could range from approximately $10,000 to $70,000 per election depending on whether the ballot proposal is submitted to the voters by itself at the special municipal election or whether the special election is conducted in conjunction with an already scheduled municipal or county election.
If this ballot measure is not passed, decisions regarding a relocated or expanded Airport terminal project, including agreements, may be made by the City without the need for prior voter approval, unless such voter approval is required by another law.
/s/ Dennis A. Barlow, City Attorney
We’ve italicized the parts that we believe are now being violated or are in the process of being violated by the Burbank City Council and city attorney. We’ll wait and see how they actually finalize this, but it doesn’t look good for either the law or Burbank.