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Residents want to be heard during airport workshop

OCEANSIDE — Residents spoke up during the Airport Master Plan Workshop held on Nov. 13 and said they want more opportunities to provide input in the Oceanside Municipal Airport master plan. 

Andrew Scanlon, senior project manager for AECOM aviation planning, began the workshop by sharing the preliminary planning progress made since March.

Airport data has been collected and an overdue update of the airport master plan was sent to the FAA.

Upon taking an inventory of the airport AECOM found some immediate changes need to be made to bring the airport up to FAA design standards.

These include taxiway separation and signage, clearing objects from the safety zone, realigning the taxiway entrance and tree trimming.

“The next phase we’ll work with the city and community and come up with a plan and layout,” Jack Driscoll, a principal of Airport Property Ventures, which manages Oceanside airport, said. “The types of hangars, layout and activities, the demand will determine.”

Initially Scanlon said AECOM held one community meeting during phase I planning and would hold one more during phase II planning, in which facilities, improvements, and a funding plan would be determined by June 2014.

“We sent out a survey, and talked with individual fixed based operators and stakeholder groups,” Scanlon said.

But residents said phase I data was not collected from all interested parties.

Councilman Jerry Kern said phase I planning was “created in a vacuum.”

“You need to get everyone involved — neighborhood groups, tenants, the airport association — they all need to be incorporated,” Kern said.

The Oceanside Airport Association, and Eastside neighborhood residents requested a meeting with AECOM during phase II planning, which Scanlon agreed to make happen.

Gordon Nesbitt, of the Oceanside Airport Association, said he wants to be assured the airport association vision statement that was read to Airport Property Ventures during the airport management selection process is followed.

Several speakers criticized Scanlon’s presentation for falling short of the vision to create a “park like environment, mecca for classic planes and signature experience for out of town visitors.”

Comments were also made on the unique marketing opportunities the airport has to target small plane pilots and draw in sightseers traveling on state Route 76.

“We’re a unique tourist destination,” Councilman Gary Felien said. “You can go after pilots of small planes who don’t want to rub elbows with jets. We have something big airports don’t.”

Most residents’ and City Council members’ master plan concerns will be addressed during phase II planning.

“There’s nothing more bland, unexciting or boring than the first phase of this master plan,” Doug Eddow, city real estate manager, said. “It’s FAA development. In phase II we’ll get very involved in what you want to see.”

Residents in the Eastside neighborhood expressed related concerns about unanswered complaints on low flying, noisy planes.

“Planes are flying lower to the ground and closer to our homes,” Diane Strader, Eastside neighborhood resident, said.

Tim Brown, an Eastside resident, said the FAA did not resolve previous complaints about low flying planes when the city managed the airport. Brown added 20 complaints a week continue to be made by neighbors and would be sent on to Airport Property Ventures to be resolved.

“A handful of pilots are sailing through the neighborhood,” Brown said. “They know they don’t belong there. How about working on being a good neighbor?”

Driscoll said most airport tenants follow the fly friendly rule that asks pilots to avoiding altitudes below 2,000 feet. He added “a few aircrafts are louder flying out of the airport and misbehave.” He said complaints would be addressed.

“We’ll monitor it and track these aircrafts,” Driscoll said.