Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Jet business may have violated its airport lease
Company had until Saturday to pay Paso more than $20,000
By Adam Jarman
The San Luis Obispo (CA) Tribune

PASO ROBLES – Paso Robles city officials said Monday that they will not yet start eviction proceedings against a jet charter business that leases space at the city’s airport. The city previously expressed fear that its 10-year lease with the company had been violated — costing local coffers.

The city sent a letter on Oct. 7 to North American Jet Charter Inc. — which is owned by North County developer David Weyrich — asking for three conditions of the lease to be cleared up:

  • Three aircraft were to be housed at the Paso Robles Municipal Airport so that property taxes on them are paid in San Luis Obispo County. Only one was known to be there.
  • The company owed the city $20,416.80 in past-due state fees related to underground fuel storage tanks. The city had paid those on behalf of the company.
  • Personal property had been stored in a hangar that was supposed to be used for aircraft maintenance.

    The company was given until Monday to prove it is in compliance with the lease. It had until Saturday to pay the past-due fees.

    The latter two issues have been rectified, said Meg Williamson, the city’s interim director of public works. The jet company sent the city letters dated Oct. 12, 15 and 18. They, in part, objected to the Monday deadline.

    Officials at North American Jet Charter Inc. could not be reached for comment Monday.

    The only outstanding condition of the lease is that the charter company may not be in compliance with the number of jets stored in Paso Robles.

    The company has asked to meet with the city to talk about the lease. As of Monday afternoon, a meeting had not been arranged.

    Under the terms of the lease, the city could try to break the agreement if conditions are not met. But since the city’s requests were acted upon, Williamson said, that’s not necessary at this point.

    “I think they’ve been responsive to our notice,” Williamson said, “so the next natural thing to do is to sit down and continue with that discussion.”

    In 2000, Weyrich negotiated a controversial lease with the city that includes free rent for seven years and $475,000 worth of hangar and office space renovations paid for by the city.

    The city also paid $1.15 million to buy out fuel supplier Aero Services and lease the rights to run the airport’s only fuel service operation to Weyrich’s company.

    The jet charter is good for the city, Williamson said, because it helps attract other business to the airport and the city in general.

    “It makes good sense to have an aeronautical service succeed at your airport,” she said. “There is benefit in the business succeeding.”

    According to county tax records, local public agencies could be out $200,000 or more because three jets aren’t currently housed in Paso Robles.

    Aircraft are charged a yearly property tax determined on their reported base location each Jan. 1.