AOPA and Oceanside, California, lock horns again

June 29, 2001

AOPA has fired another shot at the city of Oceanside, California. In April, city officials were considering plans to close the airport and redeveloping the property. AOPA vehemently objected. [See also AOPA's letter to Mayor Terry Johnson.]

Now city officials are proposing Draconian restrictions on the use of the airport.

"It appears the city of Oceanside is attempting to regulate aircraft operations that are within the exclusive province of the federal government," AOPA wrote in a June 22 letter to Mayor Terry Johnson. "AOPA believes very strongly that the staff proposals on airport operational issues violate existing federal laws and constitute breach of contract with the federal government. AOPA strongly opposes these proposals."

City officials want an airport curfew with no landings or takeoffs permitted between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Runway lights couldn't be activated after 10 p.m., except for a "declared emergency."

The city proposes to penalize pilots for "flight path violations" and low flight. Retractable-gear aircraft would be prohibited from doing touch-and-go landings. And all aircraft would be limited to one takeoff and landing before 10 a.m. each day.

The city would require owners to paint an Oceanside-issued identification number on the underside of a wing. Violators would be sent a warning notice on the first infraction, with penalties escalating to termination of the owner's hangar lease for multiple violations.

To all of that, AOPA says, "You can't do that."

"The proposed curfew, standards of conduct, penalties for violation, and access restrictions are an unlawful intrusion upon the responsibility and sole authority of the FAA," AOPA told Oceanside's mayor.

But AOPA also told the city that there are solutions to the perceived problems that would not infringe on federal law.

"The success of any airport noise program is contingent upon a cooperative working relationship between the airport sponsor, local government, users of the airport, and adjacent communities," AOPA said. "We urge you to reconsider the curfew and airport restrictions and focus on working with airport users, airport businesses, and the FAA to address this problem in an amicable fashion."

AOPA volunteered its resources to help the city identify the appropriate ways to deal with noise issues, including proper compliance with federal law and guidelines.

The 370,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is the world's largest civil aviation organization. More than one half of the nation's pilots are AOPA members, as are more than 47,000 California pilots.

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