Vote no on question
John Brown raises an important question in his October 6 guest opinion opposite mine regarding the proposed airport ordinance. He reports that, when questioned about contingency plans should the ordinance be rejected by voters, two County Commissioners said there are none. This despite their stating that passage of the ordinance is not a “foregone conclusion.”
Since the county doesn’t have a contingency plan, and since I’ve been urging voters to reject the ordinance, allow me to provide one.
Airport boosters would have you believe that if the ordinance is rejected substantial costs of airport operation would be transferred to taxpayers. That’s because the airport would remain in “noncompliance” with FAA requirements, blocking FAA funding for airport projects.
That’s nonsense. The route to FAA funding would remain exactly as it has been in the past. First, prepare a revised airport master plan acceptable to both the citizens who own the airport and to the FAA. Then go to the voters, with a plan that they support in hand, and ask them to repeal or modify the current weight limit, thus eliminating the “noncompliance” issue. Then apply for the FAA funding that is always available to jurisdictions who qualify for it.
The fundamental problem here is that the first step in that process as managed by the county was flawed. In 2008 the county adopted an airport master plan that was prepared largely to satisfy the objectives of airport boosters while ignoring the input of average citizens affected by the airport.
But it turns out that citizens can have the final say here. By rejecting the proposed loophole-ridden ordinance we can force the county to redo its plans in a way that better balances the interests of the citizens who own the airport against the interests of those who use it. Then, together, we can replace the problematic weight limit, and open the way to the FAA funding we’d all like to have.
It’s unfortunate that the county didn’t proceed that way to begin with. The county seems to continually take sides in issues like this, often with business and against the interests of average citizens, instead of facilitating solutions that balance the interests of all. If you don’t like that approach you have an opportunity to send a message on Nov. 2 by voting no on Question 1.
And while I’m at it I’d like to clarify my background since my Oct. 6 column ended with a typographical error that said, “Terry Burnes is a former Califor-” That leaves a lot of bad possibilities open, doesn’t it?
So, to clarify, I’m retired from a 30-year career in county planning, the last half managing a major metropolitan planning and building department. A significant amount of my work involved planning in relation to a major air carrier airport and two county-owned general aviation airports. And at one point I spent five years as an Air Force pilot. So I do know something about all this, despite being from California.