Watsonville Airport Update

May June 2003 Cal Pilots Newsletter

by Dan E. Chauvet

Watsonville Airport is one step closer to being assured that surrounding land uses will be compatible with the airport. A Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) has been prepared and is awaiting approval by the Watsonville City Council. EAA Chapter 119, the Watsonville Pilots Association (WPA), and AOPA Airport Support Network Representative Kerrick Philleo, all endorse and support the Watsonville ?Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan? (ALUC). Content contribution includes excellent input by the Airport Manager Don French; and CPA President Jay White, who feels that the plan preparation and content is well done. Some historical information is appropriate here. About 12 years ago a State Representative from Watsonville was able to circumvent the establishment of an ALUC in Santa Cruz County. His rationale was that there were no safety and noise issues, and that the state could not finance the ALUC. What?s that you say, you?re skeptical that there were never any noise or safety issues, and you think that someone was misinformed? There has been no airport land use planning since then. Subsequently, some highly questionable development has occurred around Watsonville Airport. In 1996, the Airport Manager provided a Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) to the City of Watsonville, which the Mayor rejected. It appears that he simply ignored State Law 21670, which requires land use planning. Approval and implementation of the Watsonville ALUC Plan is essential to prevent encroachment of high-density residential development around the Airport, and to the runway safety zones. Our challenge is getting the plan approved and implemented. Then preventing any changes that would effectively make it useless for enhancing safety, reducing noise problems, and protecting the long-term viability of the Airport. Unfortunately, there are some local politicians intent on preventing the Compatibility Plan from being approved. That means we have to work together to make it happen.