August 23, 2008

City Commissions Overseeing Local Airports Safe for Now

By Lori Consalvo

A state Senate bill that threatened to disband city commissions overseeing local airports was defeated in the Assembly.

Although it failed Aug. 14, Senate Bill 1118 was granted reconsideration, meaning supporters can eventually bring it back for a vote.

Officials in Upland, Chino, Highland and Apple Valley, along with the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville and San Bernardino County, have all raised concerns about the bill, which was authored by state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Montclair.

"We were able to put this bill down this year. And if it comes back next year, we'll be just as opposed to it," said Upland Assistant City Manager Rod Foster.

McLeod said she wrote the bill based on concerns over the regulation of air-traffic safety.

The proposed bill undoes 1993 legislation, which allowed cities to take control of land-use decisions around airports. Before 1993, such decisions were made by counties.

Calls to the senator's office were not returned Friday.

San Bernardino County officials said the bill could have resulted in increased development costs, while delaying projects that could have been approved at the local level.

Inland officials were also concerned that the proposed bill exempts two airports, L.A./Ontario International Airport and Watsonville in Santa Cruz County.

The Ontario airport is exempt because all land-use decisions are made by a government agency, the city of Los Angeles, in another county. Watsonville was exempt because it is the only county that has a single airport owned by a city.

Upland has raised the loudest objections to the bill. Privately owned Cable Airport, which is in the city limits, would require commissions from Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties to approve land-use issues if the bill had been approved.

"At least we were able to prove that although the concept might make sense, they need to work out the kinks," Foster said.

"Everything stays the same. We will continue as our own land-use (committee)," Foster added.

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