Santa Maria Airport – FAA Says Non Aviation Use Must Go

Monday, September 10, 2007
Airport board to oust go-cart track
By Malia Spencer
The Lompoc (CA) Record

In the ongoing effort to remove non-aviation uses from the airfield, the Santa Maria Public Airport board of directors has begun studying what to do about a go-cart track that has been on the southwest side of the airport for decades. With the ongoing controversy regarding a nearby mobile home park, also on the airfield, the federal government has told the airport the Santa Maria Karting Association’s race track and associated facilities, like the mobile home park, must go. Both facilities have been on the airfield as nonconforming uses, officials said. The Karting Association has been quietly allowed to stay, but with all the attention given to the mobile home park, the Federal Aviation Administration told the airport the track must be moved.

?When the dominoes start falling, you can’t tell where they will fall or who they will hit,? said Carl Engel, airport board president.

In a July letter to the airport, FAA airport compliance officer Tony Garcia reiterated that the mobile home park must be moved and is in violation of an agreement the airport has with the government in exchange for federal funds.

The letter closes by saying, ?We are taking this opportunity to formally advise the district that the go-cart track will have to be relocated off the airfield at the earliest possible date … Therefore we are asking the district to begin planning for the removal of the go-cart track from the airfield at the earliest possible date.?

Airport General Manager Gary Rice said as long as the airport shows it has begun the process to move the Karting Association, the FAA would be placated.

Discussions of what to do with the association have just started, and solutions include finding another plot of land on airport property that is outside the airfield or moving off the airport.

However, Rice said he has assured the association that it will be able to hold an international meet next July at the current location.

Currently, the group leases an 8.79-acre site for $152 a month, Rice said, but that will change to a 19.62-acre site, to take into account the parking area, and will increase to $339 a month.

In an Aug. 16 memo to the board, Rice said, he has talked about other possible sites on the airport, but any final decision will need to include discussion of allowing a private club to use public airport land.

Rice noted changes in operation may need to occur, such as opening the site to the general public while also allowing the club some exclusive use times.

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