Save Watsonville Runway 8-26 Fund

The Save Watsonville Runway 8-26 Fund


Watsonville Airport

The all out effort by Watsonville Pilots Association (WPA) to stop development encroachment in the runway 8-26 safety zones is being heavily supported by local pilots. After a valiant effort to convince the City of Watsonville from making plans to create ?new noise and safety problems? the only course left was to use legal action. Now locals are putting their money where their mouth is.

Not only is there local support, but contributions are coming from all over California and even Oregon (we still need more). One of the legal fund checks had in the memo section: ?for the save runway 8-26 fund.? Yes, that about says it all.

This WPA lawsuit seeks the following:

  1. Set aside the approval of the City of Watsonville?s Plan 2003.
  2. Order the City of Watsonville to recognize and use the CALTRANS Division of Aeronautics Airport Land Use Management Handbook as it applies to land use around airports.
  3. Order a proper Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the City of Watsonville plan 2030 as it applies to statues and regulations, including but not limited to California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), planning and zoning laws, the State Aeronautics Act, and California Airport Land Use Planning Handbook
  4. Order that the City of Watsonville and the Watsonville City Council acknowledge that all actions which limit the use of runway 8-22 are preempted by the State and/or Federal Law, and set aside the City of Watsonville Resolution 74-05.


It is naive to think that building high-density housing and high occupancy buildings off the ends of runway isn?t going to eventually cause restrictions, and possibly runway closure.

Does the City think development will close runway 8-26? That is indicated by the City?s response to the Santa Cruz County Civil Grand Jury Report, ?Watsonville Municipal Airport Headed for a Crash?? In the City?s mandatory response, a number of statements indicate the lack of importance of the runway, or the support for keeping that runway open. In the Grand Jury report finding #23 says, ?The proposed densities for Buena Vista specified in [General Plan] Watsonville Vista 2030 will result in more households being exposed to the risks of off-airport accidents and subject to noise pollution.? In response to this #23 finding, the City makes this bizarre statement, ?Additional housing does not increase danger for off airport landings.? Anyone who has ever had an engine failure (I?ve had five) has no desire to hit any kind of house or building.We need open area options at the ends of all runways.

What are the chances of winning this case, scheduled for adjudication on Friday May 4th? WPA?s attorney is experienced, and he says that judges do not like to rule against Cities or Counties. He says ?it?s prudent to be conservative. We have a 51% chance of winning.? The City filed a legal action to exclude the State Division of Aeronautics from the legal action. The exclusion was denied. Question: Does the judge like to rule against the State? Another attorney involved with the suit says the WPA chances of winning are 9 out of 10, because of the PUC codes regarding airport land use planning are fairly clear. Aviation and airports in California need to win this one. We will have to wait and see?May 4th.

To contribute to the legal fund send your check made out to ?WPA? and write in the memo section,
?Legal Fund?, then send it to:
137 Falmouth Court,
Aptos, CA 95003

or to:
WPA, P.O. Box 2074,
Freedom, CA 95019-2074.


Dan Chauvlet

Dan Chauvlet
Watsonville Pilots Association


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