Open letter to the Camarillo City Manager requesting that he and the city council consider the airport in the decision to allow housing under the traffic pattern.
I received the following information in a message from pilots that are flying into your airport. “It just came to my attention, that on Wednesday, June 13, the Camarillo City Council will be asked to approve 1350 high-density residential units on the agricultural land between the 101 Fwy and Spanish Hills. This is directly under the traffic pattern of Camarillo Airport. A consultant, hired in 2000, did an Airport Land Use Study which showed the property as an airport safety zone. This safety zone permits commercial development, not residential development. The City Manager demanded it be changed…and now they’re voting to approve building homes there.”
I represent the California Pilots Association, an advocacy group for protecting our state’s airports. In the past year, our CalTrans’ Division of Aeronautics has printed a handout that encourages that land protection be given to local airports. To quote one sentence from the handout “One of the greatest concerns facing airports today is the continued pressure brought about by inappropriate land use that threatens and limits the operations of an airport, referred to as ‘encroachment’.” I would hope that the City of Camarillo would take this message to heart.
The Camarillo Airport is a great asset. I imagine that its leaders have heard of the periodic issues wherein the Oxnard Airport has been threatened with closure. If that were to happen, the area’s air service would fall onto the Camarillo Airport. That would be under the assumption that residential and commercial encroachment do not cause the demise of your airport. Your planners should look at the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) that was created for Fox Field in Lancaster, CA. Their CLUP protects the area around the airport from developments that would cause complaints of noise or unsafe operations. Every community whose airport has homes close by will find itself subject to complaints about the airports operations.
Yes, an avigation easement can be written and homes can be soundproofed. But that does not resolve the issue. People will complain about the noise in their backyard. A single aircraft accident, no matter how rare an accident may be, will cause an uproar. Why would the Camarillo’s City Council want to permit the placement of residential housing where it will be a routine source of complaints to that body? The state?s PUC 21670 states that cities should prevent the creation of new noise (and safety) problems.
Years ago, to control noise at the Torrance Airport (TOA) in the Los Angeles South Bay area, that city felt compelled to install a noise monitoring system. While my numbers may not be totally accurate, I?ve been told that this system cost $200,000 in 1975 and would probably cost close to $1 million today. Since then, a 2006 upgrade to that system has cost the city over $700,000. Numbers for operating the system indicated that, in the recent past, it has cost as much as a $1000 a day. Has the city considered any of this?
It seems that it was only a short time ago that the Temecula Airport was closed and a new airport built in French Valley, CA. The new airport was built in an open area with no nearby residential housing issues. Today the airport is surrounded by encroaching development and the residents of that development complain about any airport improvement that might be discussed — whether it be air service or physical improvement.
Camarillo should be taking steps to preserve its airport. Considering the use of its nearby land for residential development is simply the beginning of what will eventually be a very constrained airport.
Please share this message with your city council members.
California Pilots Association
Vice President Region 4
Editor’s Note:Don’t forget to attend the meeting at Camarillo tomrrow (Wednesday).