September 1, 2004
By Alton K. Marsh
AOPA has launched another salvo in the ongoing battle to protect Long Beach/Daugherty Field from an incompatible housing development. In letters to the Long Beach Economic Development Commission and Airport Advisory Commission, AOPA said no safety review of the Southern California development had been conducted.
"We remain opposed to high-density residential development in the proposed Douglas Park," said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airports. "Residential development directly adjacent to an active airport simply is a noncompatible use of land."
AOPA President Phil Boyer spoke to Long Beach Mayor Beverly O'Neill on Monday, prior to sending the letter. "The mayor seemed to understand our concerns and indicated to me these were not the first she had heard on this side of the issue," said Boyer. "The impression left with me, however, was that her strong desire in her third term to continue an aggressive economic development stance overshadows our concerns for safety and long-term airport viability."
This issue has been brewing for years, and this isn't the first time AOPA has weighed in on development proposals around the busy airport. Noise complaints are an ongoing issue and were the subject of a lawsuit in 1987. Earlier this year, the Long Beach Airport Association formally joined the ranks of those opposing plans to build 3,900 housing units on airport property. It called it "sheer folly" in terms of safety and noise.
AOPA's most recent letter pointed out that the Los Angeles County Airport Land Use Commission (ALUC) review of the proposal considered only noise. But it didn't go by the current standards published in California's Airport Land Use Planning Handbook, which requires review of runway protection zones, runway safety areas, and obstacle-free zones.
"In short, no safety-related review was conducted," said Dunn. "And adding more homes closer to the airport will only exacerbate an already-strained relationship between the airport and the local community."
AOPA asked the planners to reject the housing development and that any residential development near the airport should be required to furnish buyers with a real estate disclosure form alerting them to the airport's proximity and obtaining the buyer's signature on an avigation easement.
AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Jeff Baker is working with AOPA Regional Representative John Pfeifer to gather more information about residential development and a school planned adjacent to Chino Airport. The two will coordinate their efforts with AOPA headquarters.
Aircraft displaced at McClellan-Palomar Airport by a new jet center will have additional space available, thanks to FAA approval of a request for tiedowns in the north field area. County airport officials made a special effort to conquer difficult design problems.
Phase I will provide 80 new spots. If Phase II is approved — it is in an environmentally sensitive area — there could be 30 more spots. Approval, if granted, could take more than a year. However, there is still a need for small hangars. AOPA is continuing to watch not only the shortage but also the lease costs to pilots.
Airport authorities are determining if there are proposed plans for a new school near Riverside Municipal Airport, and AOPA airport watchers are staying in touch with them. There are now several cases around California of local governments wanting to utilize available land near airports, and AOPA wants to ensure that safety and noise concerns are addressed.
The Oceanside City Council has approved going forward with the 1997 master plan, which means groundbreaking can take place for 10 new hangars. An additional 11 hangars will be built next year.
The hangars mean something more than additional housing for airplanes. It is the first step in revitalization of Oceanside Municipal Airport. Supporters packed the City Council chambers until nearly midnight at the final meeting where approval was won.
Despite the concerns of local pilots, objections from AOPA, and unfavorable rulings from the Airport Land Use Commission and the Ventura County Transportation Commission, the Oxnard School Board voted on July 16 to buy land near the Oxnard Airport for a new elementary school. The school site would be some 1,200 feet from the edge of the runway, inside the airport traffic pattern.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Aeronautics Division of Caltrans didn't object to the school location, even though it acknowledged it would "strongly recommend avoiding the construction of children's schools" at any of the three considered sites around the airport.
"It's bad planning and bad policy to place a school this close to a busy airport," said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airports. "We'll continue to urge the governing authorities to exercise their legal option to overturn the school district decision." AOPA Regional Representative John Pfeifer is collecting additional information.
At a cost of $3 million, the entire Napa County Airport will be circled by new security fencing. Tenants will buy a remote gate-opening control for $10 to pass through the more than 15 gates. Federal funding paid for the fencing. In other airport news, the current study of instrument landing needs will result in the availability of a glideslope in the near future.
Closure of the crosswind Runway 8/26 at Watsonville Municipal Airport would allow the annexation of adjacent Buena Vista property, for 2,400 homes, at least in the opinion of a consultant study forwarded to city officials. AOPA has risen to the challenge, contacting city officials to explain what the obligations of the city are in this matter, and contacting the FAA as well. AOPA is also researching the airport grant requirements and has explained the details of why the runway can't be closed.
11 — El Monte. El Monte Airport (EMT). Wings Weekend/FAA Seminar/Civil Aeromedical Institute. Call 310/215-2150.
11 — Truckee. Truckee-Tahoe Airport (TRK). Pancake breakfast and Young Eagle flights at EAA hangar. Call 530/587-4811.
12 — Palo Alto. Palo Alto Airport of Santa Clara County (PAO). Airport Day. Call 650/856-7833.
18 — Carlsbad. Carlsbad Police and Safety Center. Flying Companion Seminar by Palomar Ninety-Nines. Call 760/931-0546.
24-26 — Lakeport. Clear Lake for seaplanes/Lampson Field (1O2) for land planes. Clear Lake Splash In. Call 209/736-4554.
25 — Compton. Compton/Woodley Airport (CPM). 11th Annual Compton Airfair. Call 310/631-8140.
25 — Tracy. Tracy Municipal Airport (TCY). Just Plane Fun. Call 209/831-4200.
"Calendar" is updated weekly on the Web ( www.aopa.org/pilot/calendar/). Weekend flying destinations are posted each Friday in AOPA ePilot.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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