Tehachapi, CA. – New Motel [Location] Approval Appealed

Ken Hetge TehaAirport hangar owner Ken Hetge files an appeal. Photo by Ed GordonAn action by the Tehachapi Planning Commission to approve the architectural design and site plan for a planned 69-room, three-story Motel 6 on a 1.06 acre site in Capital Hills has been appealed to the Tehachapi City Council.

Ken Hetge, a hangar owner at the airport, objected to the motel over concerns that the flight path of the airport passes over the site. Last week he paid the $1561 city filing fee on behalf of hangar owners. The appeal will come before City Council at a future meeting.

However, it seems that even at the time Planning Commissioners approved the project, the property owner Terry Delamater — and city officials — knew that Delamater no longer intended to build a Motel 6 on the site.

Pilots’ concerns

During the commission hearing on Oct. 8, Hetge objected to the project because of concerns that the flight path at the airport passes over the site. He noted that the map being used for determining the airport safety zone shows the motel to be outside the B1 zone where motels are prohibited is not the map used in the Airport Land Use Compatability Plan Document.

He said that the state’s Dept. of Transportation, Division of Aeronautics, guidelines show the motel site to be bisected by the 1-D zone division.

Delamater’s property is north and adjacent to Capital Hills Parkway, east of Magellan Drive and west of Challenger Drive, near the Denny’s restaurant and three-story Holiday Inn Express.

City staff said they used a line developed by Kern County Planning that they believe is more accurate and should be used in determining the location of the flight zones. The commission accepted staff’s recommendation and issued a Mitigated Negative Declaration and approved the Architectural Design and Site Plan by a 4-0 vote. Director Sonja Wilson was absent from the meeting.

According to Hetge, the location is within the Airport Safety Zone and suffers from complicated terrain and other environmental issues and factors.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the California Pilots Association are actively involved in this situation.

In a letter to Tehachapi City Manager Greg Garrett, AOPA expressed “serious concern and strong opposition” to the approval to build a Motel 6 on the site that is partly located in an area where high-density development is prohibited under the airport’s land-use compatibility plan.

The association “expects an airport sponsor to follow all requisite laws regarding land use planning near a publicly owned, public use airport,” wrote Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airport advocacy.

The filing also noted that to date neither pilots nor hanger owners have been requested to provide input regarding this project. The Airport Commission has provided no input to the planning Commission regarding this project.

Motel 6 status

Delamater said that he originally planned to build a Motel 6, but subsequently decided not to pursue the franchise. He said that in August he let the city know that he wanted to build a motel, but not necessarily a Motel 6 or any other branded franchise. He said when the city told him he would have to start over with his application, he decided to proceed and also to place the property and whatever entitlement he could gain for its development up for sale.

Community Development Director David James said this is not unusual and that the branding of the motel was not part of the approval process.

“The planning commission is architectural design and site plan review. If its a hotel and you plant a flag on it — Marriott, Motel 6, Best Western or whatever — that’s fine, if that’s what you want to do, but you have no obligation to do that. The planning commission didn’t decide to approve it because it was a Motel 6.”

Delamater said he will be taking steps to either modify his application or submit a new application. Photo by Ed Gordon

Airport hangar owner Ken Hetge files an appeal of Motel 6 approval with City Clerk Denise Jones and Office Assistant Anna Marie Johnson.

CalPilots Editor’s Note: This type of bogus approval process, ignoring the Division of Aeronautics Airport Land Use Handbook is fairly typical of many airport sponsors (city or county) throughout the state. Their development first, safety noise issues later approach, have caused many an airport, and subsequently the sponsor, to be forced to deal with the long term problems these types of decisions have caused. Please see the CalPilots letter written to the City Council attached.


Nov 1, 2012 – The land use request has been dropped for unknown reasons, HOWEVER, another one is expected very soon.