AOPA is not about to let Oceanside, California, city officials think they can close their airport without a fight. The association was literally in their faces just last week and lobbying Congress as well.
Oceanside's mayor and a majority of the city council want to close the airport and develop the land - the largest open green space left within the city limits. But the city used federal funds to buy airport land, and that means it committed to maintaining the airport - forever. Only a special act of Congress could change that obligation.
So AOPA is making sure Congress knows what the city is up to, particularly since the House aviation subcommittee held a field hearing this week on "future aviation capacity needs in Southern California" in nearby Corona.
"I hope the work of your committee will serve to highlight the increased aviation demand that is occurring in Southern California and the resulting need to preserve and expand all segments of the aviation infrastructure in this region," AOPA President Phil Boyer wrote to Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.). "Oceanside's location, adjacent to the I-5 corridor and the Oceanside Marina, makes it a critical part of San Diego County's aviation transportation network."
Remarking on a recent city council vote to study closing the airport, Boyer said that the council's action was "surprising given other local efforts to expand both airline and general aviation airport capacity in the region."
Meanwhile, AOPA's Vice President of Airports Bill Dunn has just returned from a trip to Oceanside, where he reiterated AOPA's opposition to closing the airport to city officials and reminded them of the federal law preventing them from selling the land.
While the mayor and three of the four city council members were at least willing to talk, one of the leading airport opponents refused to meet with Dunn.
"We know who our supporters are, and we are working to convince the others that the airport is a valuable resource that must be protected," said Dunn.
Dunn also met with Congressman Darrell Issa's local staff. Issa represents the Oceanside area and has previously written the FAA indicating his strong support for the airport's continued operation and encouraged the FAA to reject any request by the city to close the airport.
March 22, 2006