Tuesday, February 13, 2007, about 50-75 people attended the regular Airport Advisory Committee to discuss the Sunroad controversy and to hear Jim Waring talk about the City’s commitment to operate Montgomery Field and Brown Field. We even had news media coverage of a lively and energetic town hall discussion.
Rick Beach, President Community Airfields Association of San Diego, gave an introductory presentation on the Sunroad hazard, using an animated fly-by of the circling approach over the Sunroad Centrum 3-building complex. The animation and slide presentation are on the web:
Tom Story, VP, Development, Sunroad Enterprises, introduced himself and offered to answer questions, that led to a spirited debate. Because of the litigation between the City and Sunroad (see the timeline and document archive at http://www.sdairfields.org/), some of the points will have to be resolved through that process. But pilots got to have their say about the difficulties of dealing with such a tall building so close to the airport.
A few of Tom’s points were noteworthy: [Editor’s Note: This developer’s arrogance continues to be proven by its actions.]
- Sunroad believes that with the FAA NOTAM in place the airport is safe; if not, then the FAA would have to close the airport
- Sunroad believes that the effect of the building is only to raise the circling minimums by 20 feet
- Sunroad believed the repeated assurances from the City that there were no height restrictions
- Sunroad offered the City and the FAA a solution to avoid circling to runway 10L and that is under discussion.
Jim Waring, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, City of San Diego, also spoke. He works for Ronnie Froman in Mayor Sander’s administration and manages Jim Barwick, Director, Real Estate Assets Department, who in turn manages Mike Tussey, Deputy Director, Airports Division. Waring has attended at least 3 AAC meetings so far, representing an unprecedented commitment of his time to aviation issues. In characteristic fashion, his remarks were forthright, candid and pointed.
When he first arrived 12 months ago, he knew nothing about airports, so asked the dumb questions. One was, what are the essential city functions and is running the airports essential? Another was how to address the underutilized assets at Montgomery Field and Brown Field. He acknowledged that earlier decisions had limited the landing weights and runway lengths due to neighbor concerns. He became frustrated at all of the restrictions imposed by the FAA because “you borrow a couple of bucks” and they prevent you from doing anything that benefits city coffers. And he understands that airport revenues stay on the airport. But he now understands how cities get frustrated by the FAA and want to close their municipal airports because every creative solution appeared stymied. So, they’ve issued a development request for Brown Field and frankly stopped worrying about Montgomery Field. He appreciates the potential of developing these valuable assets, but the City has other, bigger, problems to solve too. Fortunately, the aviation community has his attention and support, so we have an audience for good ideas.
Thanks to those who attended and spoke at the meeting. It helped deliver the importance of City airports to the aviation community.
Rick Beach, President
Community Airfields Association of San Diego
Montgomery Field (KMYF) and Brown Field (KSDM), San Diego, CA
Editor’s Note: See other Montgomery Field Sunroad articles on thsi web site by performing a search on “Montgomery”.