Developer shuts door to pilots; they open door to community

April 7, 2010

A developer may have shut pilots out of a “public” meeting about his plan to close Oceano County Airport, but he can’t keep them out of the discussion.

When developer Jeff Edwards of Los Osos proposed that San Luis Obispo County sell the property so that it can be put to other uses, California pilots, AOPA, and the county board of supervisors were united in opposing the plan. In spite of this overwhelming opposition, Edwards continues to make a play for the land and has another meeting scheduled for April 21. The local aviation community has responded by embarking on a major facelift for the airport and inviting the community to Airport Celebration Day May 8.

“When local pilots get involved to defend their airport, it demonstrates that the aviation community truly cares about the outcome,” said AOPA Vice President of Local Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn, who has been working closely with local pilots and attended the last meeting on behalf of pilots. “Local decision leaders see this advocacy effort, and it will have an impact on their decision-making process.”

The Oceano airport is within walking distance of the beach and sand dune recreational areas, and is a popular fly-in and camping destination. Working with county officials, the aviation community has embarked on a major facelift for the airport. Local pilots, led by Jolie Lucas and Mitch Latting of the Mooney Ambassadors, have launched an effort to put the airport’s best foot forward for the celebration in May: Pilots are sprucing up the airport to include new drought tolerant plants and refurbishment of the picnic area, and the county will be painting the front surface of the terminal building and re-striping the parking lot.

“This is a perfect example of the AOPA engagement initiative for 2010,” said Dunn.

The next public hearing is scheduled for April 21 at 4 p.m. at the Filipino Community Center at 885 South 13th Street, Grover Beach, Calif. The one-hour presentation will be followed by questions and answers. Pilots can show their support for the airport by showing up for the meeting and flying in for the Airport Celebration Day May 8.