March April 2003 Cal Pilots Newsletter

Chapter of California Pilots Association By Barry Jay, President February 26, 2003 While the Torrance Airport Association hasn’t been very vocal of late, we have been busy and so has our TAA PAC. We have good news, and bad news. First let me share some good news. The Torrance Airport Association Political Action Committee (PAC) supported three City Council candidates, and one Mayoral candidate in last fall’s election. Support was based on interviews with all candidates regarding several issues: bringing back 24/7 security, hiring an airport manager, runway & taxiway renovations, and empowering the Torrance Airport Commission with decision-making power. The candidates we endorsed assured us support for these issues, and they all won. Here is a summary of good things happening at Torrance Airport: ? Torrance Flite Park (TFP) had their Grand Opening of their first phase of development on February 9th, with a party celebrating the completion of 40 new hangars and a new avgas operation. ? Rolling Hills Aviation, Southwest Flight Center, and South Bay Aviation have relocated to the new hangars, and some plan to move into the new structure when the new FBO building is completed mid-year. ? We’ve learned that the parcel between Great American and the GAC will be developed next, with more hangars, office space and the possibility of a restaurant, followed by a third and final phase east of the tower. ? Robinson Helicopter Company is also expanding. They plan to construct a new 215,000 square foot building just west of their current site. Construction is expected to being in late spring or early summer, and should be completed in about one year. The good news for pilots and FBO’s alike, is that the City of Torrance has signed long-term leases for these developments; 40 years for Robinson and 33 yrs. with TFP. The bad news is we continue to have our work cut out for us. Members of the PAC and the TAA Board of Directors recently met with most of the members of City Council and the Mayor. We were informed that the nightly airport patrols provided by the Torrance Police Department was a reaction to TSA input, not as a result of our solicitations. The looming issue for the City of Torrance is a budget shortfall of $8 to $12 million. Requests for an airport manager and improvements to the airport were rebuffed. The additional revenue the above leases bring to the Airport Fund was discounted because in their view, ?it will not make up the $8 million deficit”. Since funding is a stumbling block, we encouraged the City to seek Federal assistance for the resurfacing of 29L/11R, and the ramp, but they cautioned that Federal funding comes with strings that the City won’t accept; namely the need for a full-time manager, allowing the sale of Jet A and whatever else the Feds might ask for in the future. Regarding the empowerment of the Airport Commission, the opinion was that the Commission is already advisory to Council. The Mayor and City Council selectively “listen” to the advice of commissions. While they gave us some reason to hope, that’s not likely to change, which is disappointing to say the least. Finally, for some time now auto dealers have enjoyed free parking on the south airport property. There was an amendment to Torrance Flite Park’s lease placed by (non-public) City Council executive session that will allow them to build a parking structure next to the GAC, charging the auto dealers a monthly fee to park their inventory there. This is a conversion of land from aeronautical use to non-aeronautical use, and should not be allowed by the Torrance Airport Master Plan. Our next step is a TAA meeting and all are welcome: When: April 9, 2003 starting at 6:30 p.m. Where: TOA General Aviation Center. Sincerely, Barry Jay President Torrance Airport Association