A.B.332: "Airports: land-use commissions." The existing State Aeronautics Act provides for the establishment of airport land use commissions (ALUCs) in counties in which a public-use airport is located. It does not, however, include school districts as local agencies and does not require a local agency to notify the ALUC or the California Department of Transportation of a proposed override of an ALUC determination. The transportation department is supporting legislation that would place school districts under the same airport land use laws that apply to local agencies. In addition, the proposed legislation would require that when a local agency proposes an override of an ALUC determination, both the ALUC and the Department of Transportation be notified with an opportunity for those agencies to comment. Passage of this legislation would significantly strengthen airport land use laws in California. The bill is opposed by the California League of Cities.
A.B.694: "Use tax: vehicles, vessels, and aircraft." Current law imposes a tax on the gross receipts from the sale, storage, or use in the state of tangible personal property. This includes vehicles, vessels, and aircraft. An aircraft purchased outside the state is subject to the tax if it is brought into the state within 90 days of purchase. This bill would expand the tax liability to vehicles, vessels, and aircraft purchased outside the state that are: (1) purchased by a California resident; (2) subject to California's registration or property tax laws during the first 12 months of ownership; or (3) used or stored in the state more than one-half of the time during the first 12 months of ownership. It exempts aircraft that are brought into the state for the purpose of repair, retrofit, or modification if the aircraft logs less than 25 hours after completion of the work before leaving the state.
S.B.1059: "Taxation: aircraft of historical significance." Under existing law, aircraft of historical interest that are displayed to the public for at least 12 days each year, are not for sale, and are not used for commercial or general transportation purposes are exempt from the property tax. This bill would require the owner of the aircraft to demonstrate proof of the aircraft's participation in the public event. The owner would be required to attach a certificate of attendance from the event coordinator. The bill also addresses other taxation issues not related to aviation. The bill passed the Senate. The bill was amended in June with regard to filing dates and referred back to committee. At this writing, the bill is in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.
California's Division of Aeronautics is taking a $4.8 million hit under an austere new budget signed into law by Gov. Gray Davis (D-Calif.). AOPA is urging state senators in Sacramento to approve a bill (S.1048) that would restore the lost aeronautics funds.
In a letter to Davis urging him to support and sign the Senate bill, AOPA President Phil Boyer chided the governor for taking tax money paid only by aviation users specifically to fund the state's aviation needs.
"Without these funds, there would be a dramatic decrease in funding for aeronautics programs, and the safety and utility of many general aviation airports would be adversely impacted," wrote Boyer. "These funds are derived from taxes paid by users of the aviation system and should not be diverted from their intended use."
Boyer also pointed out that a soon-to-be-released report on the economic impact of aviation in California shows that 9 percent of the state's economic activity is related to aviation.
"We know that California is facing some very hard choices," Boyer said. "Although aviation is not being singled out in these cuts, we believe that slashing aviation funding as they have is extremely shortsighted."
The state's director of aeronautics, Austin Wiswell, has already warned airport managers that $2.9 million in state-funded airport projects are on hold, as are $2.5 million in state matching funds for federal airport improvement program projects. He plans to meet his payroll and then dole out what little is leftover to a handful of already approved airport projects.
In the meantime, AOPA and other aviation advocates continue to work the halls of the state Capitol, trying to convince senators that restoring aviation funding is in the state's best interest.
The Contra Costa Times reports that a member of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors has proposed closing Buchanan Field, located in Concord. Under the proposal, aviation activities would be transferred from Buchanan Field to Byron Airport, located in eastern Contra Costa County. Buchanan Field's 600 acres would then be redeveloped into a mix of uses including parks, homes, commercial activities, and offices. AOPA's California regional representative has been in contact with the FAA and airport management to express opposition to the proposal. Keith Holt, AOPA's manager of state affairs, and Leo Saunders, AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer, recently met with airport management to express AOPA's determination to keep Buchanan Field open.
An airport management firm has suggested it might be able to run the Lake Tahoe Airport more efficiently with no subsidy from the city, according to a story in the Tahoe Daily Tribune. The claim was made by Airport Management Partners, led by President John Groszewski.
Groszewski, who is also a flight instructor, told the paper he would raise hangar rental rates and landing fees by as much as 25 percent and also attract FAA grants. Hangar rates at the airport range from $339 to $852 per month. The prices went up 3.4 percent last January, the paper reported. All 48 hangars are taken. City officials appear unconvinced that tenants would absorb the rate increase.
Residents have called into question the city's support amounting to $622,000 per year, especially considering that no airline provides service there. The last commercial service ended two years ago, but discussions are in progress with other carriers, the newspaper article said.
City Manager Dave Jinkens told the Daily Tribune that Groszewski's idea sounds like the Miracle on 34th Street, but he added that the city is open to ideas and wants to hear more details. "We'd love to come up with a way to run the airport with a profit or to even break even. I think anything like this deserves our attention," Jinkens said.
Is Santa Monica Municipal Airport joining the list of threatened airports? First it was an increase in landing fees on corporate jets, and now rumored speculation passed along to the Airport Support Network indicates there are rumblings on the City Council from a few who would like to see the airport close.
One concern is that there are no new federal funds going into the airport, because of an agreement made several years ago. Federal funding helps protect an airport from closure for many years. Lack of federal funding led the city to impose landing fees on larger aircraft that are more likely to damage the runway, ramp, and taxiway areas, an airport official has said.
However, airport officials are concerned about the larger corporate aircraft for other reasons. Residents have raised safety concerns with the City Council about the lack of adequate overrun areas off either end of Runway 3/12, AOPA sources said. Airport officials have said that for larger aircraft, overrun areas need to be 1,000 feet long, but there is room for only a 200-foot overrun area at each end. The airport was established in 1919.
The Los Angeles Airport Commission has authorized a lawsuit against Pacific Jet Inc. seeking more than $3 million in fines and a three-year ban for alleged noise violations at Van Nuys Airport, the Los Angeles Times has reported. The action was taken under a rule that limits the amount of time certain noisy older-generation aircraft can be used at the airport.
A spokesman for the city attorney alleged the operator has repeatedly failed "to live by the rules of the airport," according to the Times.
A city ordinance prohibits noisier jets from using the airfield for more than a cumulative 30 days in a calendar year. A single landing and takeoff counts as one day, the Times story said.
The ordinance was upheld in federal court and enforcement began in January 2002.
The Watsonville City Council has adopted the Watsonville Municipal Airport's master plan. The step allows the city to move forward with airport improvements and to seek federal grants. Planned improvements include an ILS approach to Runway 2, an extension of Runway 2/20 by 800 feet to 5,300 feet, expansion of the present terminal building, and construction of new T-hangars and taxiways.
A recent study indicates Watsonville has a $26 million impact on the nearby region and generates 300 jobs. The master plan can be viewed online ( www.watsonvilleairport.com/masterplan.html).
3-5 — Long Beach. Long Beach Airport (LGB) and Waterfront. ShoreFest airshow. Call 410/263-4412.
4 — Corona. Corona Municipal Airport (AJO). Corona Airfaire 2003. Call 909/736-2289.
4-5 — San Jose. San Jose International Airport (SJC). Aviation Weather Safety Seminar. Call 410/379-5731.
18-19 — Palm Springs. Palm Springs Airport (PSP). Aviation Weather Safety Seminar. Call 410/379-5731.
1 — Upland. Cable Airport (CCB). SoCal RV Rendezvous. Call 909/982-6021.
8-9 — El Monte. El Monte Airport (EMT). Air Fair 2003. Call 626/448-6129.
9 — Riverside. Flabob Airport (RIR). Veteran's Day Event. Call 909/684-4280.
"Calendar" is updated weekly on the Web ( www.aopa.org/pilot/calendar/). Weekend flying destinations are posted each Friday in AOPA ePilot.