AOPA Action in California

What AOPA is doing for California members

October 1, 2002

AOPA Expo in California

AOPA Expo 2002 takes place from October 24 through 26 in Palm Springs. Visitors can get a preview of the excitement on Wednesday, October 23, when more than 80 aircraft taxi through the streets of Palm Springs. More than 500 exhibitors are expected to demonstrate the newest equipment and aircraft available. For more information, visit the AOPA Expo 2002 Web site ( www.aopa.org/expo/).

AOPA warns Santa Monica not to restrict airport use

In an August letter, AOPA Vice President of Regional Affairs Bill Dunn advised the Santa Monica mayor and city council that they do not have the authority to restrict access to the airport by implementing mandatory rules based on FAA advisory circulars. The city had been considering a proposal from the airport commission that would restrict access based on an aircraft's approach speed. The city argues that the restrictions are solely related to safety, not noise, but the result would be to dramatically reduce the number of large aircraft using the field, reducing noise. Violations could lead to civil and criminal proceedings against operators of some jets and turboprops.

In his letter, Dunn warned that only the FAA has the power to restrict access to the airport, adding that this power has been upheld in numerous federal court cases. The proposed restrictions apparently were based on FAA Advisory Circular 150/5300-13 Change 6, which deals with airport design. The AC, however, is strictly advisory and does not carry the weight of law. In addition, Dunn's letter indicated that the city could not legally restrict airport access to limit noise because it has not met FAA criteria for imposing mandatory noise-abatement procedures.

University Airport accepts government funding

A decision to accept state and federal funding could help ensure that University Airport at the University of California at Davis remains open.

Amid rumors that the university was considering closing the airport and using the land to build housing, AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Neil Dillman and other airport advocates encouraged the school to accept the government funds. In addition, AOPA Vice President of Airports Anne Esposito wrote to Larry Vanderhoef, chancellor for the school, reminding him of the value of general aviation airports and emphasizing AOPA's efforts to preserve them.

Airport proponents also received support from neighborhood groups that pushed for a scaled-back development that would leave a substantial buffer around the airport.

The money, which primarily will be used for upgrades such as perimeter fencing and taxiway lighting, comes with a requirement that the airport remain open to the public for the useful life of the improvements, typically 20 years.

Tree cutting begins at Dunsmuir

An agreement between the City of Dunsmuir and Siskiyou County could be the first step toward reopening Dunsmuir Municipal-Mott Airport. Although details of the agreement were not available, tree cutting began in early August.

The trees encroach on the airport's approaches and must be removed before the field, which has been closed since December 2001, can reopen. Controversy over the trees began six years ago when the California Division of Aeronautics, which issues operating permits for the state's public-use airports, determined that trees near the field represented hazards to flight. The state ordered the trees removed, but some property owners adjacent to the airport refused to cut trees on their land. In 1999, the City of Dunsmuir filed a lawsuit against those who opposed the tree removal. That suit named property owners and the U.S. Forest Service as defendants.

Recently, AOPA Vice President of Regional Affairs Bill Dunn met with the California Division of Aeronautics and consulted with members of the district attorney's office, and several affected parties agreed to arbitrate the dispute.

Even with the trees gone, it's unclear when the airport may reopen. Before the field can be returned to service, the California Division of Aeronautics must reinstate its operating permit.

GA aircraft lose ground at Burbank

Despite assurances that GA pilots at Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport would have at least two fixed-base operators to choose from, airport authority officials recently informed pilots that no new FBO would be opening at the field. In addition, pilots were told that all general aviation aircraft would be moved to the southwestern ramp where the number of tiedowns available will be reduced by 30 percent.

AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Kenneth Stickney reports that Dios Marrero, the airport's general manager, had offered assurances that plans were in the works to make MillionAir the second FBO at the airport. Mercury Aviation operates the airport's existing FBO. Stickney and other pilots were surprised by the July announcement that MillionAir would not be given a contract to provide fuel and services, leaving Mercury as the only general aviation service provider on the field. Stickney and others are concerned that the lack of competition will eventually price general aviation operators off the field.

Work continues on transient parking, T-hangars for Santa Barbara

AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Gordon Feingold is working to obtain no-cost transient parking for non-overnight visitors to Santa Barbara Municipal Airport. Transient pilots complain that the field charges tiedown fees, even for pilots remaining at the airport only an hour. While many of the largest airports have similar policies, most municipal airports can accommodate transient aircraft for short periods of time at no charge. Feingold is encouraging airport officials to review the situation as they implement general aviation development plans and FBO contracts at the field.

In addition, work is continuing on a plan to bring 20 additional T-hangars to the airport. Supporters of the plan hope to receive a state loan for the construction once they have deposits demonstrating adequate demand for the hangars. If the airport can obtain funding for the project, officials estimate construction will be complete by August 2004. In addition to the hangars themselves, the project includes providing water, sewer, and electricity to the site and the addition of a taxiway.

Redlands gets new security system

Cameras and additional parking-lot lighting are just part of a new security system recently installed at Redlands Municipal Airport. The City of Redlands was also working on installing a gate system with electronic card readers at the airport as of press time. The new security system is linked to the city police department to ensure fast response times in the event of security violations.

School likely to get go-ahead despite airport objections

Rampant growth near Riverside's French Valley Airport has prompted the Temecula School Board to purchase property adjacent to the airport. Although airport users have opposed building a school on the property, approval of the site by the California Division of Aeronautics makes it likely that the development will proceed. Airport users fear that the school site is too close to the runway safety zone. In the meantime, the local school superintendent, who is also a pilot, has criticized the county for allowing housing developments so close to the airport, forcing officials to locate a school nearby.

Proposed sports complex raises concerns at Corona

Plans to build a sports complex of soccer fields, softball fields, and concession buildings along the final approach path to Runway 25 at Corona Municipal Airport are coming under fire from aviation advocates.

The proposed development, called the "For the Games Prado Sports Complex," would include 10 soccer fields and five softball fields. Airport users are concerned that safety issues related to locating the fields under the approach path could ultimately close the airport. In addition, local pilots say the airport is busiest on evenings and weekends — the same periods when the sports complex is likely to be the most crowded.

Members of the Corona Pilots Association expressed their concerns over the project, but feared their arguments fell on deaf ears. AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Stephen Whitson has been following the proposal and will cooperate with affected parties to work to prevent any development from encroaching on the airport.

Residents, airport battle over noise at Long Beach

Neighbors of Long Beach Airport/Daugherty Field recently asked city officials to raise penalties for violating noise-abatement procedures, despite the fact that airport officials say the noise-abatement procedures are working well and the airport is in compliance with antinoise regulations. Area residents asked that fines for noise violators be increased from $300 to $3,000. Airport users are being urged to fly friendly by following noise-abatement procedures.


Upcoming aviation events in California

October

4, 5 — Van Nuys. Van Nuys Airport (VNY). AirTel. California Pilots Association Annual Meeting. Call 800/319-5286.

4, 6 — Salinas. Salinas Municipal Airport (SNS). California International Airshow. Call 831/754-1983.

5 — Bakersfield. Bakersfield Meadows (BFL). Vegas in the Valley Poker Run and Barbeque, hosted by the Bakersfield Ninety-Nines. Call 661/588-2512.

5 — Chino. Chino Airport (CNO). The Air Museum Planes of Fame. Naval Aviation special event will feature carrier-based fighter planes. Call 909/597-3722.


Major airshows and events are published in AOPA Pilot. Calendar is updated weekly on the Web ( www.aopa.org/pilot/calendar/). Weekend flying destinations are posted each Friday in AOPA ePilot.