October 5, 2009
By Sarah Brown
The California Department of Education should consider alternatives to a proposed public charter high school close to San Carlos Airport, AOPA told the agency Oct. 1.
Local AOPA members alerted the association to the proposed school, which would be 1.5 miles off the end of Runway 30. AOPA has historically contended that schools should not be within two miles of an airport.
“AOPA is concerned that allowing the charter school to operate in that location will be a poor execution of both federal and state policies designed to protect airports and communities from development incompatible with aviation needs,” AOPA Manager of Airport Policy John Collins wrote in a letter to the school facilities planning division of the California Department of Education. “Such development will inevitably be a source of irritation to students, teachers, and airport users alike. San Carlos Airport is a vibrant general aviation airport that provides critical services to the community; and therefore, should not be put in a position to have an adverse relationship with its neighbors.”
Under California state law, the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) Division of Aeronautics must review proposed public school sites within two miles of an airport to ensure the safety of pupils, consistency with community planning, and the usefulness of the site. AOPA supported this law and further legislation that added charter schools to the review process. The legislation encourages consideration of an alternate site.
The aeronautics division evaluated the site in San Carlos and noted that the location would be subject to noise from overflights by helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft at low altitudes, but it did not object to the use of the site for a public charter school. CalTrans also noted that the site was within the airport influence area but that it was not subject to a formal Airport Land Use Committee review. AOPA recommended that the Department of Education look for another site that is mutually beneficial to all parties involved.
Department of Transportation,
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AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.