The 2006 draft of the General Plan 2030 for the city of Watsonville was released last week. Once again, it contains plans for high density development west of the Watsonville Airport in the Buena Vista area. This development planning is predicated on flawed information. City planners have proclaimed east-west runway 8/26 as a “low use runway”. Low use is defined by the State as less than 2000 operations per year. Estimations of actual usage are 3000 operations per year on runway 8, and 10,000 operations on runway 26. The State Department of Aeronautics, and Aries Consultants LTD, both use a more common sense approach counting traffic in both directions in their assessment for land use planning, which in this case would be a combined use of 13,000 operations. Additionally, both safety and noise footprint issues which should be a serious consideration for climbing aircraft are ignored.
The City Planning Department has manipulated the draft General Plan content regarding safety and noise, by using the “low activity runway” status for runway 8, in so doing ignoring legitimate airport land use planning. By excluding Zone 3, the turning zone west of the airport, City Planning has chosen to disregard density criteria, preventing the establishment of noise and safety problems in Zones 2 and 4. City Planning also disregarded consideration of existing homes. Responsible density would be one dwelling unit per 20 acres in Zone 2 and one dwelling unit per 5 acres in Zone 4. Existing development now exceeds this density for gross acreage in Zones 1, 2, 3, and 4, off the west end of runway 8-26.
On April 12, 2005 the planning department succeeded in eliminating the “Basic Compatibility Qualities” language from the Airport Master Plan. Eliminated was specific description of what is safe and unsafe development in zones around an Airport. Why? To grant easier developer land use planning.
According to internal City memos, it is not clear who is paying the $500,000 for planning. It looks like they are getting what they paid for–from the City’s Development Director and City Manager. Since there appears to be no use in writing to City Council, the best chance for accomplishing anything positive is to write to your County Supervisor.
Watsonville Pilots Association
A Chapter of California Pilots Association