Redlands City Council Demonstrates Its Developer Bias

Editor’s Note: Clearly the The Redlands (CA) Daily Facts understands, however, the Redlands City Council proves it lack’s vision when it comes to long term planning.

Sunday, June 25, 2006
Opinion
City launches a salvo aimed at the demise of its own airport
The Redlands (CA) Daily Facts

Over stiff opposition from the Redlands Airport Advisory Board, pilots, airport business owners and aircraft owners, the council saw fit to put the future of our airport in the hands of a well-financed developer and future homeowners. One developer from out of town with his lawyer in tow had his way over the objections of a multitude of airport businesses, owners, users, pilots and patrons. Eighty-one homes will be built adjacent to the airport with many only about 1,900 feet from the runway and directly under the helicopter flight pattern. History shows us that airports with residential homes this close fall prey to noise complaints and eventually become part-time airports with nighttime curfews if they survive at all. Following up on repetitive noise complaints and lawsuits, most cities adopt strict noise restrictions and curfews that drive lucrative business aircraft operations to other airports with 24-hour service.

Our neighbor to the west, Torrance Airport, also has homes 1,900 feet from their runway. Torrance is closed nine hours a day, 10 on weekends, due to noise complaints and operates a $350,000 noise monitoring system with a staff of three and an annual budget over $170,000 just to keep peace with their residential neighbors – all of which could have been avoided had they kept homes farther away.

Had our city held out for airport compatible nonresidential development, the airport would have a bright future and the city would gain the same free street and infrastructure improvements without the extra burden 81 homes will put on our schools and social services.

The net dollar gain to the city would be far greater than the measly $65,000 the Walton Development is expected to generate in annual tax revenue to the city.

The city purchased our airport from private owners in 1966 and has since invested millions of city and federal dollars in runway, taxiway and ramp improvements. Every building on our airport has been constructed with private funds with a current market value over $14 million. For over 50 years our airport has enjoyed natural protection provided by orange groves and a remote location.

In May 2003, the council moved the airport’s southern “no houses” boundary from San Bernardino Avenue 1,000 feet closer to the airport to accommodate the proposed sports park. The boundary was nearly 2 miles long and only half a mile of it needed moving. Without consulting anyone at the airport, including the Airport Advisory Board, the council moved the entire line putting the airport in jeopardy and opening the remaining mile and a half of protected area for developers.

The May 2003 council decision launched the first of many slow torpedoes toward Redlands airport. Tuesday night’s decision launched the second salvo.

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