Airport Neighbors Raise Complaints
January 27, 2014
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  • Robert Frost said good fences make good neighbors.

    So what to do when there’s no fence, just sky?

    Well, you might say that’s the problem some Eastside neighborhood residents have with the Oceanside Municipal Airport.

    In their view, the fence needs some mending.

    Last month, a group of Eastside residents led by Tim Broom sent the city 495 complaints that he and a dozen or so other residents have assembled since last summer. Broom appeared before the Oceanside City Council again on the topic on Wednesday.

    Silence from the city has been the response, he says.

    Oceanside’s general aviation airport is situated on 43 valuable acres in the San Luis River valley alongside Highway 76 and just west of Foussat Road and about 2 miles from the coastline. The land belongs to the city, but is under a 50-year lease signed in 2009 to manager Airport Property Ventures, a Los Angeles company. It’s currently the subject of a master plan update process.

    The planning calls for a series of improvements, new hangars and tie downs, which will make the facility a “very nice hobby airport,” in the words of Jack Driscoll, one of the principals with APV.

    Driscoll answered questions about the master plan update before the Oceanside Planning Commission a few weeks ago.

    He said he wants to see the airport become a “destination” stop with related businesses, such as avionics and maintenance facilities, and even a restaurant to attract fliers and the public to drop in.

    With a runway of only 2,712 feet, the airport is sized to accommodate mostly single-engine planes and a few twin-engine planes. It is home to about 70 aircraft with the probability of that number growing to 90 or so in 20 years. Current operations (landings and takeoffs) are at about 11,000 and projected to double.

    A handful of Eastside residents, including Broom, also appeared at that Planning Commission meeting. They voiced concerns that while they weren’t against the airport, some of the airport’s users weren’t being good neighbors.

    They say they’ve documented many instances of excessive noise and some downright scary incidents, too, where planes have come over their houses at 100 to 200 feet of altitude.

    Because the airport is uncontrolled — that is, it doesn’t have a control tower — pilots coming and going from the strip can go pretty much when and wherever they want once they are in the air (subject to some safety rules set by the FAA).

    The complaining Eastside residents said that some pilots on departing from the airport make a sharp left turn to fly south over their mesa-top community.

    Driscoll said he believed the offending pilots were mostly “transients” — people stopping by the airport, but not based there — and that each one is briefed on the proper, but voluntary, flight path.

    When asked about the noise and safety issues at the airport, FAA public affairs specialist Ian Gregor expressed some sympathy for the complaints but offered little in the way of tangible relief.