AGUA DULCE- Air Park Permitting Issues Heat Up

Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Air park permitting issues heat up
The Los Angeles (CA) Daily News

AGUA DULCE — A notice of violation was issued against the Agua Dulce Airpark for what county officials say was illegal film production inside the property, but the airport operator said Monday that no filming was taking place. The notice was handed down Friday by Los Angeles County officials after some residents in the small equestrian town reported that two World War II-era airplanes appeared to be in a chase scene in the sky.

A county inspector observed two planes, a helicopter and what he believed to be filming in one of the hangars.

But airport operator Barry Kirshner said no filming was occurring. He said film crews were there to test lenses on cameras for film production planned in May in England.

“We were issued a notice of violation, but there was confusion,” Kirshner said. “We notified (officials in) zoning enforcement and regional planning. In this case, there is no film permit required.”

Production companies must secure film permits from the Entertainment Industry Development Corp. for filming. But Kirshner said no filming was taking place in this case, and all appropriate county departments were notified.

Sam Dea of the county Department of Regional Planning said he had received an e-mail from the air park on Wednesday about the camera testing.

“They did send something that was forthcoming,” he said.

But Dea said neighbors were not notified.

The notice of violation came just days before the county’s Regional Planning Commission is set to discuss whether to revoke or modify the permit for the air park. The commission will meet Wednesday.

The airport, long open only on weekends, has sprung back to life since new owner Kirshner took over more than three years ago. Community athletic fields have been added, and special events have been scheduled there. While some area residents support the changes, others complain of noise, claim there are illegal air acrobatics overhead and cite problems ranging from construction to excessive filming at the airport. County permits for the small community airport go back to 1959 and need updating, county officials have said.

Several community forums have been held to discuss modifications to the permit, but the issue remains touchy throughout the community. The Civic Association and Kirshner have come up with nine drafts of what community residents will and will not allow.

Civic leaders have said modifications to the permit should shed light on what is permitted and not permitted at the airport — issues that have remained unclear for decades.

Kirshner called the timing of the violation notice unfortunate. He said he has tried to operate the air park in cooperation with the community.

“We did nothing wrong,” he said. “We’ll continue to work with the community. The timing was bad for something like this to happen, but there was no film for production going on. That’s the last thing I would want to do in the community. We do want to make things work.”

The issue likely will be discussed in Wednesday’s meeting.

“It’s obviously something the commission will have to consider,” said Paul Novak, planning deputy for county Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. “The supervisor is concerned about the timing of this incident and concerned about the air park’s compliance with the existing permit.”

Novak said he was uncertain whether a decision will be reached at Wednesday’s commission meeting. Whatever the outcome, an appeal likely will be filed, he said. “We expect any decision will be appealed, whether the permit is revoked or … approved with modifications.”