Agua Dulce Airport- Hearing (Follow-up)

This is a follow-up on the dispute regarding the Agua Dulce Airport. To read the report written by Region 4 VP, Jack Kenton on the Agua Dulce Airport hearing, click more. No title


Hearing 1/22/05  LA Regional Planning Commission
Purpose: To determine future status of the Agua Dulce Airport

Apparently the county held a hearing in Aug 2004 to address complaints from the airport’s neighbors. The complaints were essentially noise complaints, although a number of non-aviation issues were brought up to use as complaints. Among the latter were and continue to be complaints regarding safety. Formation and aerobatics were among these complaints ? other complaints included illegal construction that was supposedly done without the required permits.

The specific purpose of this hearing was to see if the commission should revoke or modify the Special Use Permit (No. 1404-(5)) which authorizes the operation and maintenance of the airport.

Staff Report
A staff analysis of the airport situation (dated per the hearing date of 1/22/05) was made available to all attending the meeting. The analysis pointed out that 1404 placed no limitations on the number of based aircraft, replacing an earlier permit that had limited the number of airplanes based to no more than 20. The analysis lists 10 violations, which, except for a hangar height issue and grading a tie-down area without a permit, were all items that were not exclusively airport issues.

The report, regarding Current Operations, goes on to speak to the ?rural character of the area and concerns on limited groundwater supplies. It seems to criticize that the airport has hosted film production, special events such as fundraisers, community meetings, air and auto shows. It then goes on to state: The enforcement staff has identified a series of violations of County codes and regulations at the subject property; it appears SP 1404 will require additional conditions to help limit or preclude further violations in the future.? In the Staff Evaluation section, the staff suggests modifying the SP 1404 with 14 conditions/restrictions. Immediately following that section, the report includes 8 pages of ?draft? Revocation and Modification conditions that are recommended. All of this was done before this hearing (1/22/05) was held.

County staff made a brief presentation that included mention of some 80 letters asking that the airport?s use permit be either revoked or significantly modified. It also mentioned 3500 communications in support of the airport.

The Testimony at the Hearing
Three anti-airport groups were given 5 minutes each to present their complaints (I didn’t write down their names but two sounded like local citizens? groups and one sounded like a city organization). Following that, the airport owner and his lawyers were given 5 minutes to defend the airport. Anti-airport testimony seemed to talk a great deal about noise, low-flying airplanes, dogs and horses being frightened, movie filming, and construction that was done on a community soccer field and an airport swimming pool without proper permits. Also, there was an issue about the airport being used to host special events; apparently this type of activity also requires a permit.

Lawyers for the airport’s owner, Barry Krishner, then made a presentation in which they stated that they had been holding meetings with the three anti-airport groups and that the owner was close to an agreement which would resolve the community’s complaints (those before the Planning Commission). Not having been involved before this, I was surprised to learn that, while the county seemed to want the airport restricted in use to only those aircraft hangared at the airport, the owner was close to agreeing to that so as to end the airport?s status of being open to the public.

After a break, the general public was permitted to speak. Equal time, approximately 45 minutes was given to both the ?anti? and the pro airport speakers. One anti speaker stated that “if the airport had remained as it was when first built, there would be no problems.” He also mentioned the area being zoned for agriculture (A21). A large number of complaints seemed to have little to do with the land being used as an airport, e.g., aerobatics, formation flights, building permits, paving that supposedly affects a blue stream, 4th of July fireworks, etc. A mechanic for the LAPD helicopters stated that the airport was not necessary for rescue as the rescue helicopters did not need airports.

As pro-airport people, you can all imagine the arguments in favor of the airport. For starters, a helicopter pilot for the LAPD stated that the airport was an asset for rescue as ‘copters don’t really like to be landing and taking off in dirt, dust, or mud. Generally the arguments went on to include local residents that contradicted the issue of dogs and horses being frightened (they had dogs and horses that were not fazed by the airplanes). An FAA Aviation Safety Inspector (Ops) from the VNY FSDO spoke of having spent an extended period of time monitoring Agua Dulce airport operations (this past summer) and he found only two instances of aviation violations. He stated that they then took appropriate action on the observed violations.


Statement of Jack Kenton,
California Pilots Association
VP Region 4

The following is a synopsis of my statement to the Planning Commission.

“Mr. Green, the representative of one of the community groups has said that, if the airport had not grown, the community would not have had a problem. I maintain that, as the zoning is agricultural, if residential housing had not grown there would have been no problem. Re a statement that continuing expansion would bring continuing complaints, I stated that the continuing construction of residential housing next to the airport would certainly cause complaints.

From my point of view, a majority of complaints had nothing to do with the property having status as an airport. Illegal construction, if true, should be handled as such and not as an airport issue. Complaints of gasoline going into the groundwater are hard to believe in that gasoline, beyond being dangerous, is expensive. Pilots are very careful in their handling of gasoline. Problems with noise from 4th of July fireworks? If they don?t want it, stop the fireworks, don?t close the airport.

There was talk of requiring a new CEQA, etc. and revisiting the entire permit process for the airport. This kind of action is usually deadly for any small company (airport). There have been a great number of bankruptcies in companies that have been sued, fought the suit and won, and then went bankrupt as a result of the financial loss from the litigation process. I highly recommend against such and action unless the Commission has already decided that they want the airport to fail.

The airport was used extensively in the aftermath of the Northridge earthquake. I mentioned the six to eight organizations that used the airport to bring people into the area for evaluating the problems, the corrective action needed, insurance companies, etc.

Complaints about low-flying airplanes, etc, are problems that can be handled by the FAA. The airport is only responsible for airport issues; once an aircraft has taken off, the responsibility for unsafe operations, etc., falls upon the FAA and the complainant need only contact the FAA, identify the offending aircraft, and let them take action to investigate and penalize an offending pilot.

The California Pilots Association supports the continued use of the Agua Dulce Airport the same manner as it exists today. The flying public wants it to remain as a public use airport. If there is a problem with ?too much? flying activity, perhaps the Planning Commission could look at the airport having a landing fee to discourage its use by pilots with no good reason to be there. We do not want to see it restricted to only the aircraft that are based there”.

The entire hearing ran from 9 AM to noon.

Region 4 VP- Jack KentonJack Kenton
Vice President Region 4
California Pilots Association

 

 

UPDATE:
This week I’ve had several inquiries as to the standing of Agua Dulce Airpark. There was a public meeting on Sat Jan 22 with both sides expressing their opinion. This open forum continues in downtown LA, 9 am Wed March 16th. I have enclosed information from the website regarding that. Also on the website is a link to the Discussion Draft No. 5 Feb 2, 2005. It goes into very specific detail (31 pages) as to what will happen if and when the airpark becomes a “Special-Use” airport with an R to mark it on the charts…. meaning they are not looking for you to come in there for a tri-tip sandwich or AVgas, so keep flying brother. Whatever your feelings on the matter, peruse the following and maybe even take a gander at the 31 pages from the website. http://www.aguadulceairpark.com/

The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission conducted a public hearing on January 22, 2005. The Commission is considering the modification of Special Use Permit Case No. 1404-(5), which authorizes the operation and maintenance of a private commercial airport.

The Airpark thanks the Commissioners for their time and consideration. Thank you also to all the community members, government officials, and others who came.

The hearing lasted three hours, during which county staff presented their report, and testimony was heard from opponents and supporters. The commission urged the various groups to continue to meet, and also urged the airpark to meet with the community at large. When these hearing notes are available on line, we will post a link here.

The hearing has been continued to Wednesday, March 16, 2005, at 9:00 am, at 320 West Temple Street, Los Angeles, California 90012.

If you are unable to attend the public hearing but wish at send your comments to the commission, please write to Sam Dea of the Planning Commission, 320 West Temple Street, Los Angeles, California 90012, or click here to e-mail him. sdea@planning.co.la.ca.us

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