To read the open letter to the San Luis Obispo County Supervisors supporting the Oceano Airport click Read More below.
Date: March 12, 2010
District 1 Supervisor Frank Mecham
District 2 Supervisor Bruce Gibson
District 3 Supervisor Adam Hill
District 4 Supervisor Katcho Achadjian
District 5 Supervisor James Patterson
Subject: Oceano Airport (L52)
Honorable San Luis Obispo County Supervisors,
The California Pilots Association (CALPILOTS) is a state wide non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to promoting, preserving and protecting California’s airports. We are aware of the recent unsolicited effort being made by a developer to replace the Oceano Airport with a condo/commercial development project. And, as is the usual case, the developer is using the same old strategy trying to convince the community that it would provide the county with a greater level of remuneration.
CALPILOTS is also aware of the fact that you, as County Supervisors, have opposed the concept for “redeveloping” Oceano Airport, and we wish to applaud you for your vision and support.
There are many reasons to continue to support and protect our community airports. Oceano Airport remains one of California’s small jewels. It is a unique airport capable of bringing tourists to a location that is within walking distance to the beach. As you are aware, tourism pays off in the form of revenue that is distributed throughout the community.
Another important reason is community open space. The last thing that any community needs is to become another LA or San Diego with little open beach space left due to over development. Further, due to the very unique location of the Oceano Airport, it offers less noise and safety issues than poised by a potential huge increase of cars and trucks operating in the proposed redevelopment area.
There is however, more to an airport than just bringing in tourists. Airports also provide jobs to the community, both on and off the airport. Whenever an economic study on an airport is done, it shows that the airport provides an economic boost to the community in the form of jobs and business. Added jobs will probably be a part of any redevelopment proposal that is presented to you, but these airport related jobs are more than everyday service jobs. And, they are not as dependent on consumer spending as retail related jobs.
One of the more important services that an airport provides is emergency services such as medical evacuation. Our experience is that developers will always err on their side of the equation stating that these services can be provided by the larger airport, San Luis Obispo airport in this case, but I ask you what you would prefer if one of your family members were in trouble at the beach, immediate access via the airport, or a wait for an ambulance. Having airport access convenient to the public insures that a person requiring immediate medical care will have a better chance due to rapid evacuation via airplane or helicopter.
Finally, as airport sponsor, you know that Oceano Airport has accepted federal funds from the FAA’s Airport Improvement Projects. Acceptance of federal funds incurs an obligation to maintain the airport for a period of no less than 20 years thereafter. Only rarely has this obligation been waived, and it essentially requires an act of Congress to do so.
Thank you for your time and efforts on behalf of your community and your airport. If there is anything that we can do to assist in the effort to keep your community asset, your airport, open please do not hesitate to contact us.
Edward Rosiak – President
Carol Ford – VP Region 3
Jack Kenton – VP Region 4
California Pilots Association
Richard Howell – Airport Manager
Gary Cathey – Chief CALTRANS Division of Aeronautics
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)
San Luis Obispo Pilots Association (SLOPA)
Pilots protest developer’s vision for Oceano Airport
A Los Osos developer who hopes to see the Oceano County Airport closed so that it can be redeveloped met with substantial opposition at a meeting on March 17. And, while the developer attempted to keep out most of the pilots who showed up, he didn’t succeed in barring AOPA.
Developer Jeff Edwards held a “public” meeting in Grover Beach, Calif., to float the idea of closing Oceano County and leasing the property for a variety of commercial uses. San Luis Obispo County, which owns the airport, has said it has no plans to sell or lease the property.
About 75 pilots tried to attend the meeting, including some who had flown in from the San Francisco Bay area. But only a handful was allowed inside the room, which held approximately 28 people. A local man who has applied for a business permit at the airport was also kept out.
Steven Taber, an attorney from Costa Mesa, Calif., discussed legal considerations of deactivating a publicly owned airport. He said the FAA would consider requests to close an airport because the airport is not profitable. Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of local airport advocacy, countered that the FAA rejected a request from the city of Bakersfield to close its airport because it was losing money.
“How many want to see Oceano Airport closed?” Dunn asked the group. No one raised a hand. Dunn told the developer that AOPA would strongly oppose any attempt to close the airport.
At a reception following the meeting, Dunn briefed the pilots who hadn’t been allowed inside, and emphasized the importance of remaining involved in these types of issues. “AOPA and local pilots have to work together to counter threats to general aviation airports,” he said.
Another meeting is scheduled for April 21. Dunn urged area pilots to make their voices heard at every one of the next five sessions planned by the developer. But don’t stop there, he said: “Build relationships with your elected officials in the county,” Dunn said.
Pilots’ support for Oceano Airport demonstrates the essence of engagement—speaking up about GA issues in your community. AOPA President Craig Fuller has dubbed 2010 “the year of engagement,” and challenged AOPA members to get involved. See more ideas on how to get engaged in aviation.