Hollister CA.- Airport Mgr and Advisory Commission at Odds Over Plan

Airport Manager Defends Layout Switch
Dec 25, 2007
By Anthony Ha

Airport Manager Bill Gere’s plans for the Hollister Municipal Airport have drawn some sharp criticism, but Gere defended his proposed layout plan Friday. Gere presented the council with the new layout Monday, but some airport users complained that the plan left out a new California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection air-attack base, as well as facilities for gliders. Kollin Kosmicki 12/21/07 Need to make clear higher that it was after the advisory recommendation

“Every issue brought up had been brought up in the past,” Gere said.

Many of those speaking out against the plan are protecting “specific, selfish interests,” he added, rather than focusing on the welfare of the airport or the city as a whole.

Three members of the Hollister Airport Advisory Commission – Douglas Hooten, Fred Meyer and Allen Ritter – said the document had been changed since the commission recommended it for approval.

“The layout plan presented to the city council was different from the one presented to the airport commission, and that’s a problem,” City Manager Clint Quilter said Friday.

The council did not vote on the plan, and instead called for a special airport commission meeting to iron out the differences between the commission-approved layout and the one brought to the council. That meeting has been scheduled for Jan. 3, Gere said.

Specifically, the commission-approved plan included a new air-attack base, while the proposed plan left that area open for development to be determined by a “request for proposal.”

Ritter said Friday he also wants to see a glider facility back on the plans.

Asked why the plans were different, Quilter said: “I don’t know. My assumption is that someone redrafted it.”

Gere acknowledged that he had revised the layout plan after it was shown to the airport commission. But the changes were not substantial, he said.

“I did not change anything,” he said. “I went from one depiction supplied by CalFire to another depiction supplied by the CalFire.”

Gere added that it’s unfair to imply that he is trying to “pull a fast one” on the council and the airport commission.

“You can’t pull a fast one when (the plan) is taped up on a wall in front of the city council,” Gere said.

Ritter, a former airport manager himself, said Gere’s behavior was inappropriate.

“I would’ve never done that,” Ritter said.

The land in question has been the subject of debate and controversy in recent months, as developer Andy Barnes proposed building corporate hangars on the land that CalFire wants.

Gere said Friday there’s a way to meet both groups’ needs because CalFire can expand at its current site.

“We know why they need a new facility, because the old ones sucks,” he said. “But we don’t know why they need to move.”

The city council has directed the airport commission to develop a “request for proposal” that will allow Barnes’ firm and other companies to present their plans.

The proposed layout plan reflects the wishes of the council and the Federal Aviation Administration, Gere said. He added that it can be revised once the CalFire situation is resolved.

“We are still free to do any or all of the options,” Gere said.

Anthony Ha
Anthony Ha covers local government for the Free Lance

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