Nut Tree Land Development in Question

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November 9, 2010 – California Pilots Association Director Andy Wilson and I attended, and presented at another public meeting regarding expanding a major development adjacent to the Nut Tree Airport (VCB) that would reduce the level of safety around the airport to unacceptable levels, and also diminish the future viability of the airport.

The current developer (proponent) is a also Pilot who is attempting to revitalize the attractiveness of the Nut Tree as a Destination Airport, bringing back some of the good old fly-in atmosphere for the illusive $100 Hamburger, etc.

In the process, some of the nearby non-aviation land use densities would exceed the Guidelines found in the current California Land Use Planning Handbook by CalTrans.

The 11/09/2010 meeting was primarily to address some revised land Usage Swaps, not to address the Safety concerns the public (mostly aviation) has been objecting to regarding Housing directly abeam the runway. There are other problematic Land Uses as well, but Housing is what is receiving the strongest objections.

The (staff) architects of the Agenda for this, and the recent Planning Commission, crafted Agendas that specifically did not include the Residential component as that is being represented as having already been approved. Many locals, who were present at various preliminary conceptual planning meetings in years gone by (including a retiring Council Member and a former ALUC Member), have testified at Airport Land Use, Planning Commission, and/or City Council meetings to the fact that no concrete plans were previously approved, yet staff and the developer keep insisting that former agreements were reached and signed.

After patiently allowing a wide range of clearly articulated safety issues to be expressed, the Council members all indicated a concern for safety as well, but reiterated that such was not the subject of the meeting (similar to what transpired at a recent Planning Commission meeting).

At the end, the Staff and Developers proposals were approved but the Mayor did express the opinion that the whole project would need to go back to the Airport Land Use Commission (ALUC) for final approval when more specific detailed plans for the proposed project area would be available.

Needless to say, the Proponent was not expecting to go back to the ALUC, where local aviation concerns for Safety have been gaining more favorable support.

The proponent has been slowly incorporating some reduced density land uses as this entire/ongoing review process has been proceeding. I hope to be working to help him understand the array of current State and Federal Laws, Regulations, Guidance, and Financial Assurances for community planning generally within 2 miles of California Airports.

The problem is that Staff Planners and Legal have been supporting him by insisting that current Laws do not pertain despite correspondence from CalTrans Aviation to the contrary. The proponent may finally be ready to comply with the current material in order to get his project moving forward in a timely manner, not the outdated 1988 Airport Land Use Plan (ALUP) that the planners have been insisting on.

Andy Wilson and I attended another Special Meeting on another topic before the same ALUC November 10th. We have some recommendations on what should be done next in regards garnering their increased support for preserving and protecting the Nut Tree airport (VCB).

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Bill Sanders – Director at Large
California Pilots Association

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