Watsonville Pilots took a giant step in preserving California’s General Aviation airports. They won a lawsuit that set a valuable precedent for others to follow.
The City of Watsonville adopted a general plan that was supposed to be effective until 2030. It provided for a large residential building project near the Watsonville Airport.
Watsonville Pilots Association, a chapter of California Pilots Association, enlisted assistance from the Sierra Club and Friends of Buena Vista, a group living near the airport.
The complaint alleged that the Watsonville City Council had violated California Aeronautics Law by not adhering to safety standards of the Airport Land Use Planning Handbook. The Sixth District California Court of Appeal agreed with the pilots.
This puts to rest the argument previously used by planners and developers that the Handbook was only a guide. It provides “safety criteria” that must be applied in accordance with law by planners when evaluating projects near airports.
This valuable publication can be accessed free by logging onto the Aeronautics website at: www.dot.ca.gov/aeronautics and looking under Publications. It runs 416 pages but can be downloaded.