President's Corner By Jay C. White

July August 2003 Newsletter


An old ploy used by some politicians for gaining media name recognition is to create a controversy surrounding an airport. This seems to be the tactic embarked on by Contra Costa County Supervisor Mark DeSaulnier. It has been reliably reported that closure of Buchanan Field Airport will be his platform in running for election to the California Assembly in 2006. This tactic was used some years back by a Santa Clara County Supervisor who proposed closing Reid Hillview Airport. She was not able to close the airport but she did generate enough name recognition to gain election to the U.S Congress. Mr. DeSaulnier’s proposal to close Buchanan Field came as a surprise to some local airport supporters since he had previously on several occasions expressed his support for the airport. His stated reason for this flip-flop was that the land could be put to better use for purposes other than an airport. His supporting argument was that all Buchanan air traffic and businesses could be moved to Byron Airport some 30 miles away from Concord. Mr. DeSaulnier’s reasoning does not mention an economic impact report recently released for Buchanan and Byron Airports. Significant parts of the report state: 1). Airport-related businesses located at the two county airports spent approximately $29.4 million in 1999; 2). Buchanan Airport generated $470.557 in property taxes and $112,000 in possessory interest taxes; 3); The airports generated 664 jobs in 1999; 4) Future airport employment would be expected to create 1,065 jobs with total jobs created within the county as a result of the airports being 1,584; 5) Total economic impact of the airports within the county could be expected to total $170.9 million. Whatever Mr. DeSaulnier’s motives, he is in for a few surprises. The county is bound by an FAA grant assurance agreement to keep the airport open for approximately 19 years. Moreover, the Mt. Diablo Pilots Association is a well-organized group based at Buchanan and is determined to fight to save the airport. They will receive full support from the California Pilots Association in preserving this very important airport that is part of California’s Airport System Plan.