Sunday, October 2, 2005
Airport vital asset for Oceanside
By MICHAEL DOERR
The San Diego (CA) North County Times
The mindless effort by the Oceanside City Council to destroy the Oceanside Municipal Airport is an ongoing soap opera that is very difficult to understand. Before the people with the foil helmets rob our community of a vital asset, let’s look at what we have. Most of the money spent on the airport has been federal grant money. This money was used to construct elements of the airport, resulting in jobs for Oceanside. The City Council recently failed to act on accepting $150,000 worth of free federal money for enhanced security fences, etc. That money is now irretrievably gone as a result of the City Council’s inaction. The City Council also apparently intends not to accept $195,000 in federal money to pay for the new hangars at the airport so it can claim that the city of Oceanside has to spend money on the airport.
By renting spaces and hangars the city receives more income from the airport than it spends. Up until recently it also received income from a successful, rent-and-fees-paying airport operator whom the city lease-terminated. Contractual agreements with the Federal Aviation Administration would make it almost impossible to eliminate the airport before 2023.
Life-Flight and government agencies that use the airport for emergencies and training provide vital public service. Most of the aircraft using the airport have a business purpose, such as commuting to a job (which I once did to serve both my Navy Reserve employment and my then-job as a consultant), maintaining flight time currency (for local airline pilots such as myself), building time to qualify as a commercial pilot, providing transportation, airborne inspection, photography, and other useful functions.
Oceanside owns 4,805 acres of land, most of which is undeveloped. The airport takes up 36 acres of that land. The airport is located in the flood plain and is not a prime location for most businesses. Even if a company was pounding on Oceanside’s door for that land, I’m sure most businesses would demand that Oceanside get rid of the polluting, eyesore junkyards that surround the airport before they would even consider locating there.
Our airport is a tremendous asset for any natural disaster, providing direct access to Highway 76 and Interstate 5, better access than Camp Pendleton provides. Aircraft technology is making planes quieter, and 20 years from now, aircraft using V-22 tilt-rotor technology will make the Oceanside airport capable of providing quiet, direct service to San Diego, Orange County, Phoenix, San Francisco and similar airports.
The Oceanside airport makes Oceanside easy to market to businesses that desire ready access to a small airport and attractive for events such as the X-games. The airport attracts people with high-paying jobs who own or operate aircraft or who want access to a local airport.
It is easy to destroy and erase, but it is very hard to build and establish. We have a well-established airport. Let the city intelligently use the other 4,769 acres that it owns before it stupidly destroys an integral, productive asset to our community.