Oceanside – Good new and Bad News

Friday, May 23, 2008
Oceanside airport plans move forward
By Promise Yee
The Encinitas (CA) Coast News

OCEANSIDE – Oceanside Municipal Airport development will begin as early as October following a 4-1 council vote May 14. Airport Property Ventures of Los Angeles was selected as the airport developer and facilities operator. Councilman Jerry Kern cast the vote against. Airport Property Ventures will invest $21 million to develop and build out 2,600 square feet of administration, office and retail space with a “mission look” on the south side of the airport, and develop a parking area on the north side, said Jack Driscoll, a principal with Airport Property Ventures.

The results will be airport beautification, job opportunities, and city revenues of $11,255, 000 over the next 25 years.

“This is a good day for Oceanside Airport,” said Ben Meyers, president of the Oceanside Airport Association. “With private developers operating our public assets, we get the best of both worlds.”

Airport Property Ventures will also assume the repayment of the airport’s existing state and city loans and enforce the conditions of the 2003 settlement agreement with Citizens for a Better Oceanside, which restricts airport expansion.

The city will continue to be responsible for airside operations, such as runways, taxiways, lights, and navigation systems, said Gary Gurley, acting general services manager.

Airport Property Ventures has been a company for one year. Despite the company’s youth, it guarantees revenues to the city in the first year. “This is our first airport as a company and it makes it even more important,” Lydia Kennard, a principal with Airport Property Ventures, said. “We will not fail.”

The company expects to fill the 200 new hangars quickly. “There’s a terrible shortage, we don’t see any problem filling up the airport here,” an Airport Property Ventures representative said.

Mayor Jim Wood said airport development has been a contentious issue for years, but it’s time to do what is economically best for the city. “Across the street is going to be a million-square-feet shopping mall, we want it first class with top-notch restaurants,” Wood said. “We want that in conjunction with a top-notch airport.” Editor’s Note: CALPILOTS is pleased to see that the Mayor has finally decided that the airport adds value to the City of Oceanside.

Not so fast… More News On Oceanside……..

Friday, May 23, 2008
OCEANSIDE: Company trying to buy back property near airport
By CRAIG TENBROECK
The San Diego (CA) North County Times

OCEANSIDE —- A company that sold a large chunk of property to the city in 2003 for airport improvements is now trying to buy the land back, casting a shadow of uncertainty over the city’s long-term plan to expand the airfield.

The company, Santa Monica-based AELD, informed the city Tuesday that it was exercising its option to repurchase 14.7 acres of vacant land north of Oceanside Municipal Airport’s runway, officials said.

The company identified itself in the letter as the successor to the Deutsch Co., which sold that property to the city for $2.8 million.

In the original purchase agreement, Oceanside gave Deutsch the right to buy back the land at the same price —- $4.25 per square foot —- if the city failed to use it in an airport project within five years, said Gary Gurley, the city’s general services manager.

The window closed this month and the property is still vacant. That means the city may have to sell.

“We’re going to need to discuss the matter with the council,” City Attorney John Mullen said Thursday.

The city has already contacted an escrow company as required by the purchase agreement with Deutsch, Mullen said.

Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration, which chipped in a $2.5 million grant for the city’s purchase of the property, has said it would oppose any change in ownership.

The buy-back letter comes at an inopportune time for airport supporters. After years of stasis, the city’s long-term plan to develop the 50-acre facility had recently appeared to be picking up speed.

Last week, the City Council voted 4-1 to negotiate with a long-term lease with a private company, Airport Property Ventures of Los Angeles, to operate and upgrade the airport.

The company promised to make $21 million on improvements. That would include roughly 174,000 square feet of hangars on the property that AELD wants to take back.

Robert Clifford, a principal with Airport Property Ventures, said Thursday that he was unaware of the letter. But his company always knew it was a possibility, he said.

“Our plans are to move forward,” he said of his company’s negotiations with the city. “Whether the north side is part of it or not, it’s still a viable airport,” he said.

For now, it’s unclear what AELD would do with the property. Because the land is adjacent to an airport, there are limitations on how it could be used.

Reached Thursday by phone, company representative Dan Dart said that he has had “preliminary discussions with the city.” But he declined to comment further, saying that he was in a meeting.

Federal Aviation Administration’s spokesman Ian Gregor said by e-mail Thursday that a letter the agency sent to Mayor Jim Wood last year criticizes the buy-back provision in the sale contract.

“That provision is inconsistent with the purpose and conditions for the FAA’s funding of the purchase of the land,” the letter said. “We would not release it for sale.”

Generally, Gregor said, if the agency “agrees to allow an airport to sell land that it bought with federal grant money, the airport would have to pay back that grant money.”

But there’s an important caveat:

“The key phrase here is ‘if the FAA agrees.’ ” Gregor said.

Ben Myers, president of the Oceanside Airport Association, said Thursday that his group of pilots and airport supporters has eagerly awaited build-out of the airport’s north side.

“Hopefully, the city can find a way to resolve this amicably,” he said. “If not, we’re probably looking at a long court case and that doesn’t sound very good to me.”

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