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"State nixes Oceanside airport's loan request"
- From: "Stephen Irwin" <stepheni@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 5 Oct 2005 02:16:09 -0400
Tuesday, October 4, 2005
State nixes Oceanside airport's loan request
Airplanes sit on the tarmac at the Oceanside Municipal Airport on Thursday.
By BEN FRUMIN
The San Diego (CA) North County Times
OCEANSIDE ---- The state has turned down the city's request for a $450,000
loan that would have paid for 10 new hangars that are needed to make the
Oceanside Municipal Airport self-supporting, a city official said Monday.
Without the rental income that would be generated by those 10 proposed
hangars ---- the airport already has 41 ---- the small airfield will be
$40,000 to $50,000 in the red each year, said Peter Weiss, Oceanside's
public works director.
By this year or next, the city fund dedicated to the airport, which includes
grant money and income from existing hangar and tie-down rentals, would dry
up without the additional hangar rents, and the airport would need support
from Oceanside's general fund to stay open, he said.
With ever-increasing construction costs, Weiss said state officials decided
last week that it didn't make financial sense to honor Oceanside's loan
"If your income isn't high enough, or you're spending too much, they're not
going to lend you money," Weiss said, noting that city officials believe the
new hangars would make the airport a moneymaker.
Weiss said the city will now begin exploring commercial loans or private
partnerships to fund construction of the 10 proposed hangars, adding that
such endeavors would require the approval of the City Council.
The council has recently wrangled over the future of the small airport north
of Highway 76, which has been a political hot potato for years. A familiar
majority composed of Mayor Jim Wood and Councilwomen Shari Mackin and Esther
Sanchez voted last month to hire an independent consultant to study the best
use of the airport's 36-acre property.
The 3-2 vote ---- Councilmen Rocky Chavez and Jack Feller dissented ----
came minutes after Sanchez asked city staff members several questions about
what it would take to close the airport.
Members of the council majority have said in recent weeks that the airport
is a drain on the city's economy and imposes tough development restrictions
on valuable neighboring properties along the Highway 76 corridor.
Still, there's conflicting information on what the city's obligation is in
keeping the airport open.
Some officials have said that it will be nearly two decades before Oceanside
would be allowed to close the airport, noting that government regulations
require cities that use federal money for airport projects, as Oceanside did
last year, to keep runways open for 20 years.
But a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration said this summer
that because Oceanside used federal money to purchase land, as it did in
2003 when it bought 14.7 acres adjacent to the airport, that the city must
keep the airport "open in perpetuity."
Despite recent indicators that some on the council are opposed to airport
expansion and enhancements, the public works director said the city's staff
will continue to explore funding alternatives for the new hangars until the
council directs otherwise.
Weiss said recent anti-airport statements and direction from the council
majority did not adversely affect the effort Oceanside put forth in trying
to bag the state loans.
"Did we try as hard as we can?" Weiss asked. "Yeah, we did. Because I need
to make sure (the airport) can pay for itself."
Weiss said he expects the council to vote Oct. 12 on whether to issue an
official request for proposals from consultants interested in performing the
land-use study of the 36-acre airport property.
Post your opinion on this story in the CAA General Aviation Forum
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