State legislation designed to encourage public involvement in and awareness of airport noise regulation was approved by the California State Assembly last week.

Assembly Bill 556 — also known as the Airport Homeowner Bill of Rights — passed in the State Assembly Thursday, May 26th, by a vote of 52 to 25.

The bill was authored by local Assemblymember Mike Gordon and would require Los Angeles World Airports — the City of Los Angeles agency that operates Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and three other city-owned airports — to mail notices of mandatory public hearings on variance applications to “stakeholders” in airport issues.

Such “stakeholders” at LAX would include all landowners, residents, interest groups, local governments and other public agencies within or associated with the LAX noise impact area.

Currently, such a notice is not required to be mailed to any of these entities and many people are unaware of the airport noise regulation process, Gordon claimed.

“This legislation will increase public awareness of LAX’s applications for noise variances and enhance the impacted residents participation in this process,” Gordon said.

LAX is one of the largest noise polluters in Southern California, Gordon said.

The airport is required under current regulations to request an exemption, or variance, from the California Department of Transportation every three years.

The variance process ensures that a comprehensive plan is in place to systematically mitigate noise stemming from airport operations.

Despite a longstanding residential soundproofing program developed to provide relief from airport noise, LAX has yet to provide this benefit to tens of thousands of residents in the airport noise impact area, Gordon said.

As a result, LAX is out of compliance with state noise standards and must apply for a noise variance, Gordon said.

After such a variance request is made to the State Transportation Department, that department is required to conduct a public hearing on the variance application.

“The noise variance process is a public process,” Gordon said.

“My legislation will ensure that more residents are aware of this process and are in a position to hold LAX accountable for soundproofing residences in a timely manner,” he said.

LAX has provided acoustical treatment to only 5,452 dwelling units since initiating a residential sound insulation program in 1984, Gordon said.

As of December 2003, 25,929 dwelling units and more than 84,000 residents in LAX’s 1,821-acre noise impact area have not received sound insulation treatment, Gordon said.