Watsonville Airport's Runway 8/26 Designated Low Activity

The Council voted (4 to 3) to designate east-west runway 8-26 a low activity runway, and to modify the Airport Master Plan to strike out language requiring compatibility standards in various safety zones, as recommended by downtown City staff. This allows high density housing in the Buena Vista area just west of the Airport. This includes high concentration of persons, schools, care centers, etc. The vote leaves runway 8-26 full length. Those Council people voting against the staff’s version wanted to vote for the Council subcommittee’s version of a low activity runway, which would leave in much of the compatibility language in the current Master Plan. Other vote outcomes were remotely possible, such a closing the runway, shortening the runway, restricting the runway. These runway modification actions staff knew would bring immediate injunctions. So the vote kind of went the way we expected.

A large number of people spoke against action that would permanently damage the Airport. All three organizations, WPA, EAA, and 99s had some of the members present. People from Buena Vista also spoke against development west of the Airport. Yes, the anti-airport people were there and spoke also.

Since the Council has finally taken some sort of postion (a good news/bad news step), we will have to stratagize to assess what further actions would be effective to insure the long-term viability of the Airport.

Dan Chauvet
Watsonville Pilot’s Association