AOPA pledges support for local efforts to keep Calif. airport open
Apr. 28, 2004 AOPA representatives traveled to California recently to tell backers of Concord's Buchanan Field (CCR) face-to-face that AOPA stands with them in their efforts to fight off a bid to close the airport. Vice President of Regional Affairs Roger Cohen and California Regional Representative John Pfeifer met with U.S. Rep. Ellen Tauscher's (D-Calif.) district staff, City of Concord officials, Chamber of Commerce executives, and a host of local pilots, including Mt. Diablo Pilots Association, Friends of Concord Airport, and the AOPA Airport Support Network (ASN) volunteers from Buchanan Field and Byron Airport.
Despite warnings from the FAA that closing Buchanan would violate a number of federal grant obligations, Contra Costa County Supervisor Mark DeSaulnier has been pressing to close the airport and sell the land to developers. He wants to build a replacement airport on a garbage dump in a distant part of the county.
"Buchanan Field is a powerful economic engine for Concord and Contra Costa County," said Cohen. "And what makes it so powerful is location, location, location. Even if the FAA were to approve a relocation plan - which the agency has already said it does not support - moving so far away from the business center could only harm the county."
AOPA has been actively involved in the fight to protect the airport for a long time. The face-to-face meetings gave senior staff members the opportunity to see close up the work being done locally.
"After seeing all the great work that David Evans, our ASN volunteer at Buchanan Field, has done already, I feel confident Supervisor DeSaulnier will fail," said Cohen. "Combine local pilot activism with strong support from the FAA and members of the U.S. Congress like Ellen Tauscher and George Miller (D-Calif.), the city and business community, and I like our odds. I like them a lot."
Despite the strong opposition, DeSaulnier shows every indication of trying to move forward with his plan. AOPA plans to fight him every step of the way, including direct participation in upcoming public hearings on proposals to close or relocate Buchanan.