City fathers (and mothers) of Oceanside, California, are considering sticking it to AOPA members - again. Frustrated in their efforts to close the airport, the city council is now considering jacking up hangar and tiedown rents as much as 78 percent.
"That's unreasonable and may very well violate FAA grant assurances," AOPA Vice President of Airports Bill Dunn told Oceanside Mayor James Wood in a letter.
"Implementing the newly proposed rental rates without having established the reasonableness of the increase in accordance with the FAA grant assurances would not be in the best interest of the city and could have serious financial consequences for the city," Dunn warned. "I am sure you and your new city attorney would prefer to avoid these types of problems."
Apparently they did. Wednesday night, the city attorney withdrew the proposal from consideration by the council and said they would be notified "when and if" the fee hikes would be discussed again. Local attorney Ron Cozad also had threatened suit if the city proceeded with the fee increase.
The city claims it needs to increase fees because the airport doesn't generate enough money to maintain it.
But AOPA doesn't buy it. "It is our experience that a like-size airport to Oceanside should, at the very least, be at a financial break-even point," Dunn said. "More often than not, these like-size airports are self-sufficient and establishing financial reserves for airport maintenance projects."
So why not Oceanside? Well, for one thing, the city is ignoring federal money available for the airport. The city is eligible for a $150,000 Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant this year, money the FAA is ready to give the city as soon as it asks for it.
"Accepting the FAA grant would relieve the city from expending 100 percent of the costs of maintenance projects at Oceanside and placing an onerous rate increase on hangar tenants," said Dunn.
Updated: June 8, 2006, 3:11 p.m. EDT