Watsonville Airport- High-Density Housing Off the End of Runway 26

No title The City of Watsonville has created a loophole so they can still plan for high-density housing off the end of runway 26, the second most used runway at Watsonville. On April 12th the City Development people got Council approval to classify the east-west runway 8-26 a “low activity runway.” The City of Watsonville states this allows:
(1) Planned density of one house per acre in zones 2 and 4, which are aligned with the centerline of the east-west runway (there are already existing houses and structures in narrow row, now avoidable);
(2) Eliminating zone 3 which is the turning zone of approaching aircraft to runway 8 and departing aircraft on runway 26 during prevalent fog conditions (an assisted living care center is planned there); and
(3) Stripping language from the Airport Master Plan intended to prevent more safety and noise problems.

This unfortunate action will damage the Watsonville Airport’s future. A “low activity runway” is defined by the State Airport Land Use Planning Handbook as one with less that 2000 operations per year. Runway 8 use estimates are 3000 operations per year and runway 26, 10,000 operations per year.

Stripping the “Basic Compatibility Qualities” language from the Master Plan affects all runways, not just the east-west runway. Development people say It allows “in-fill” which removes any open areas for engine failure emergencies, a safety problem for aircraft occupants and people on the ground. The basic intent of the California State Airport Land Use Planning Handbook has been circumvented by the City Development people. They, unfortunately, are fully committed to high-density development and not interested in safety and noise ramifications, or the Airport. Yes, developer money is involved.

Dan Chauvet
Watsonville Pilots Association