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Fri, Mar 19, 2010

Pilots Turned Away From Airport Development Meeting In CA

Dozens Turned Out, Room Was At Capacity, Developer Says

Dozens of people, many of them pilots, were not allowed to attend a public meeting Wednesday in which a developer was discussing plans to close a local airport and re-purposing the land.

The meeting was to be held at a Rabobank branch in Grover Beach, CA. The developer from Los Osos, CA says he would like to close the Oceano County airport (L52) and re-purpose it for commercial and residential property. The developer, Jeff Edwards, says he wants to create a "Town Center" in Oceano, as well as create jobs.

The county Board of Supervisors, however, has been clear that they have "no interest in selling the airport." Chairman Frank Mecham said as much at the March 2 board meeting. Airport manager Richard Howell said at a news conference Wednesday "we're not interested in leasing it, either."

The San Louis Obispo Tribune reports that Edwards set up the meeting, hand-picking a small group of pilots and others to attend. An attorney gave a broad overview of the process for closing a GA airport.

But dozens of other pilots gathered outside the bank where the meeting was being held. The Grover Beach police were notified that the meeting was not being held properly.

While the city had no involvement in the meeting, the police told the crowd they could not allow the room to exceed its rated capacity. But they also advised Edwards that he should find a larger venue should he decide to hold another one. He reportedly has five additional meetings planned.

AOPA Vice President for Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn flew from Fredrick, MD to California to attend the meeting. “I can assure you that we'll be at these meetings and we’ll oppose you all the way,” he told Edwards. Dunn asked the people who were able to get in to the meeting if any of them wanted to see the airport closed.

No one raised their hand.

FMI: http://oceanoairport.com/index.htm, www.slocounty.ca.gov/bos.htm

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