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Too-tall building cut shortToo-tall building cut short

Sunroads Enterprises, a real estate developer in San Diego, built a 180-foot high, 12-story office building just nine-tenths of a mile from California’s Montgomery Field Airport. That was in 2006. Sunroads knew the building’s height would have a negative impact on the nearby airport, because the FAA determined that it was a hazard. The building intruded into Montgomery’s pattern altitude and instrument approaches. A 160-foot-high building, 20 feet lower than the one under construction, would be acceptable, the FAA said.

Nevertheless, Sunroads went ahead with construction. The city of San Diego—with AOPA’s direct participation as a party of real interest on behalf of the association’s members—successfully sued Sunroads, and in 2007 the company lopped off the offending 20 feet. Sunroads then sued San Diego for $40 million in damages.

In a resounding victory for San Diego, Montgomery Field, and AOPA, a May 18 court decision dismissed Sunroads’ counter-suit.

“It’s yet another affirmation of AOPA’s effectiveness in partnering with federal, state, and local governments in preserving airports and advancing the cause of safety” said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of local airport advocacy.

Thomas A. Horne

Thomas A. Horne

AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1980s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.
Topics: Advocacy

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