Oceano Airport Under Attack by Land Developer

Developer Jeff Edwards has scheduled a March 17 meeting to discuss his unsolicited plan to turn Oceano County Airport, near San Luis Obispo, Calif., into a non-airport property. Meanwhile, Bill Robeson, a city planner who works with the city’s Airport Land Use Commission, told SanLuisObispo.com that when it comes to closing the airport, “none of the hearing bodies for the county are considering it.” But Edwards, a private land planner, sees “enormous potential” for the nearly beachfront property that he says could translate into “significant cash flow to the county if they were to close the airport and lease it for development.” He has advertised his upcoming meeting through a press release, has invited representatives from San Luis Obispo County and candidates running for local positions, and said “the public is encouraged to attend.” Oceano operates a 2325-by-50 foot paved runway and is home to 13 aircraft (10 singles and three ultralights). The facility serves transient pilots and its land-use plan estimates 12,500 operations per year.

At the meeting, Edwards will introduce plans that could see the airport redeveloped into commercial or residential properties, senior housing or tourist-oriented facilities, or some mix thereof. His one-hour presentation will include an aviation law attorney, a geologist, an ecologist, an economist, a climate-change expert and a Costal Act specialist, followed by a question & answer period. Oceano is currently operated by a local self-supporting enterprise fund that is not part of the supporting county’s general fund and fell just short of its $79,000 budget last year. Its planned upgrades include additional hangars, additional aircraft parking and facilities upgrades. The airport has received $2.3 million from the FAA and is applying for a $450,000 grant to facilitate planned work. Edwards’ meeting is set to be held Wednesday, March 17, at 5:00 p.m. at Grover Beach, Rabobank, 899 Grand Ave.

Editor’s Note: Read the comments after the article at SanLuisObispo.com – very interesting..


Update

Supervisors: Oceano Airport is not for sale

The Oceano Airport is not for sale now or in the foreseeable future, the Board of Supervisors said emphatically on Tuesday.

“The airport is not for sale. I’d like to repeat that as many times as I can,” said Supervisor Katcho Achadjian.

Achadjian and his fellow supervisors were clearly miffed at Los Osos developer Jeff Edwards, who has called a series of meetings that would explore the future economic potential of the 58 acres of county-owned land on which the airport sits.

Edwards’ move “caught me off guard,” Achadjian said. He said he would have liked Edwards to give him the “the courtesy of coming to my office” to discuss his plans. Achadjian represents Oceano on the Board of Supervisors.

An Edwards e-mail that circulated last week announcing the first of six meetings alarmed pilots and others associated with the airport. Many of them came to the supervisors meeting to speak.

Chairman Frank Mecham said they might be better off talking to Edwards about his plans in the corridor outside the supervisors’ chambers, since the board had “no interest in selling the airport.”

A handful spoke anyway, delineating the small airport’s rich history, and pointing out that it is both a community asset and a vital link in the county’s safety chain.

Achadjian added that the airport has a million-dollar annual economic impact on the county, and pointed out that should the county give up the land it would have to pay back millions of dollars in federal money allotted to the site.

Edwards, who was in the audience, said he was simply trying institute “a discussion, not a decision.” He said he was looking at the airport as “an asset for the future.”

However, he was unable to provide specifics about why a person who does not live in the community would call a series of meetings to discuss the future of development on land he does not own and that its actual owners say they have no intention of selling.

“Let’s get the facts on the table,” Edwards told supervisors, and “set emotion aside.”

None of the five supervisors took him up on his offer. “It’s not something we’re interested in,” said Adam Hill.

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