PASO ROBLES AIRPORT…
By John Lindley Secretary, CPA
Paso Robles Airport is owned and operated by the city. It is within the city limits and on the eastern edge of the city north of Highway 46 and east of Highway 101. The Paso Robles City Council seems to be unique in that it considers the Airport an asset to the city, and has actively opposed residential development that would jeopardize the airport. The City has financed new construction at the airport.
The City controls development in the part of the land to the west of the airport, but the land to the east is controlled by San Luis Obispo County. There has been little residential development in the city portion. The major eastward residential expansion of the City has been south of Highway 46. Although the nearest houses there are about 2.5 miles from the departure end of Runway 19, it has been necessary for the CDF fire bombers to turn eastward after takeoff to reduce noise complaints. There is an area of small farms just east of the airport in San Luis Obispo County.
Like many other areas, the developers try to develop in the jurisdictions that would be most favorable to them. Major developments have been proposed in the city and county areas. In the city less than a mile from the airport, a development was proposed with 64 single family homes on a 160 acre parcel. The City Planning Commission approved the application. After hearings with input from the airport users, the City Council denied the application.
In the County, a winery complex was proposed with a tasting/banquet room, winery, residence, and horse barn. The main public buildings were about 4000 feet from the departure end of Runway 31 exactly on the runway center line. The County Planning Commission seemed ready to approve the application. However, the Paso Robles City Council was persuaded that it would be detrimental to the airport. On the night before the County Planning Commission meeting, the Council voted to oppose the development, overnight a letter was prepared, and City Council member Jim Heggarty personally took the letter to the County Planning Commission. The Planning Commission denied the application with the current plot plan. It is reported that the developer is relocating the buildings and will represent the plan.
Other construction beneficial to the airport includes a new two million dollar terminal financed by the City and completed last year. The terminal has space for a small restaurant although an operator has not been chosen. Runway 1/19 was resurfaced and an over run on the south end extended about 1000 feet. Nuno, the Port-A-Port manufacturer, has broken ground for 20-40 new individual hangars located at their factory on the airport. Several other hangars are being planned in other locations.
The City estimates that 700 people work at the airport. The California Division of Forestry, CDF, has constructed a new fire base replacing the temporary buildings used previously. Paso Robles Airport is also a base for California Highway Patrol’s fixed and rotary aircraft. The city gave American Jet Charter monitory incentives to relocate its business office and maintenance base to Paso Robles.
The City Council hopes the airport will bring additional business to the area.