Airport candidates in their own words: Ken Foster
Would you support the construction of another runway as detailed in the Master Plan, and why?No, not unless the community decided that it was necessary and I cannot imagine that happening. Some have said that the other runway would be beneficial for noise concerns if it were to be used for training traffic and a right pattern would be developed over the industrial and the ball fields and the mining area. I think the Olympic Heights people would have some concerns in that regard. Certainly I would support their concerns. So, no I cannot imagine there ever being another runway built at Truckee, nor can I imagine the current runways being extended or in other ways improved except for maintenance.Would you support the construction of a de-icing facility, and why?De-icing facility sounds bad on its surface. What it really is is a heated hangar. And the facility that is being proposed – and my recollection is it was the FAA that suggested that to us several years ago, and finally our number has come up in their system of grants – and they would fund the construction of that heated hangar to the tune of $3-plus million. And frankly I think that bringing $3 million of federal money to this community would be difficult to turn down. Now I recognize the sensitivities of those that do not entirely understand that a de-icing facility is not going to attract traffic to Truckee. I can even provide an isolated circumstance whereby it would reduce traffic. Right now in the winter an aircraft would arrive at Truckee, and if there were no heated space to put it in after they dropped off their passengers – waiting for a day or two for their passengers to return – they would add two more operations by flying down to Reno and then flying back, whereas they could stay in Truckee. Now that is certainly an argument that is isolated and one which not everyone is going to absolutely buy into. But clearly that is a circumstance where having a heated hangar at Truckee, paid for by the federal government, would benefit our concerns over jet operations. At this point I can say I want to thoroughly evaluate the opportunity to bring that much federal money into this community.Would you support the construction of a new terminal building, and why?A new terminal would be nice, but no I cannot support it primarily from a fiscal standpoint. That is it makes no sense with the dollars this community has to invest in its airport. And secondly it would just be a lightning rod in terms of community interest, and frankly we’ve got enough lightning rods.How about expanding the existing terminal?No, because it is located within the required safety zone of the airport, so not only would we not be able to expand it, I don’t think that the FAA would eventually approve such an application.Do you believe that by improving facilities the airport will attract added usage and increase aircraft traffic?What kind of facilities do you mean?These type of facilities, like the de-icing facility.I don’t believe the heated hangar would attract additional traffic that is within the range that can be counted. In fact it may decrease traffic, but again, not within the range that can be counted based on the accuracy by which we have for counting traffic.What are some of the goals an airport resident could count on you working for if you were re-elected to the board?Certainly continuing a vigorous effort to educate pilots with regard to the community’s noise concerns, both piston and jet aircraft. We certainly have done a fairly good job of developing a program by which smaller aircraft can participate and show results. We need to expand that existing program to capture a greater number of pilots that arrive at Truckee, and I believe we have done that by expanding that program to be web-based. Now we need to adapt that program to the jet pilot community, and that process has already begun. I think when we last spoke I let you know that I was about to leave for Las Vegas for three days, and I was given the opportunity to speak to business jet pilots about Truckee’s concerns and how to fly into and out of Truckee in a way that allows us to be a good neighbor to our community. And that did happen and we did get hundreds of opportunities to discuss with individual pilots and individual aircraft operators – the shared aircraft, the Net Jet group. There were five of us from the Truckee Airport down there. I was the only one that is in the election that had the opportunity to see first hand how this system of dealing with jet pilots works when we spend the money to go some place like Las Vegas. It was very interesting … Of the thousands of booths that were there – this is the largest gathering of aircraft and pilots and operators in the U.S. – there were so many airport booths trying to get people to fly to their community there were four that I counted that were saying, “here’s how we want you to fly should you decide to come to our community. This is how we prefer you arrive and depart our airport and this is how we want you to help us be a better neighbor.” Not urging people to fly in, but cautioning people that there are some concerns with regard to flying in. And it was Truckee and Telluride, [Colorado], two rather similar communities and airports, Teterborough, New Jersey, if you can believe that, a monstrous airport within three miles of Manhattan… So in terms of our types of airports, there was ourselves and Telluride that were there saying, “hold everything, we’re experiencing some concerns in our communities and we want you to help us resolve those.” We had the opportunity to go speak with the Net Jets booth, the people who fly about 100 operations into and out of Truckee each year… and they were interested in understanding what we had to say. Also there were the publishers of the manuals that pilots use to fly into and out of every airport … and we spoke with them about trying to get a bigger emphasis within their publication about flying into and out of Truckee. And after explaining to them what we are doing at Truckee, they admitted to us that Truckee is about one generation ahead of the rest of the country in terms of what is would like to see the publishers of these documents do; that is include information about how to fly in and fly out.. Their process doesn’t provide for that yet… And we are first airport in country that has asked for the rights or the privilege, if you will, of having them put this additional information in their publication. So what I learned in Las Vegas was that Truckee truly is on the leading edge of what is happening relative to small airports in rural communities. That made me feel good, number one. It also made me recognize that we need to continue with this cutting-edge thinking. The issue of pilot education and incentive, this small reduction on the price of fuel for pledging to fly friendly into and out of Truckee has not been done anywhere else in the country… that was a concept I thought of in the shower one morning before a meeting.What are some of your major achievements as part of the airport board? Well, certainly my tenure as chairman of the Airport Noise Advisory Committee. I have been the only chairman of that committee. That is the primary value that I have added over the last eight years. I will continue that and I will continue the innovative thinking that has gotten us to be one of the leaders. I will also continue to work to eliminate the Stage I and Stage II aircraft, they are the noisier aircraft. I have met twice with this group that has put together an organization to lobby Congress to eliminate, over some reasonable period of time, the Stage I and II aircraft from the general aviation skies. Congress eliminated them from the commercial skies years ago. We are a charter member [of the Sound Initiative] and I have met with that group twice. In fact, Steve Swigard and I are the only members of that board that have…Do you believe that Truckee Tahoe Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan [CLUP] should undergo an Environmental Impact Report or include mitigation in its environmental report?I have to rely on the agency that is responsible for its creation to determine whether the environmental documentation requirements were met. It seems to me that if the CLUP has mitigated any impacts it has identified to a less than significant level – which I understand it has with regard to the hospital, the school, the recreation district and the development of the old railroad, old lumber mill – and they have mitigated those to a less than significant level and their representatives in front of the CLUP have indicated so, that results in a mitigated negative declaration. I have no reason to develop an opinion other than to know that they have met the requirements of CEQA [the California Environmental Quality Act].Would you support noise monitoring outside of the airport property, and why?I would but it can’t be done because noise monitoring off the airport can only be done in concert with a radar system. That is a system that identifies the aircraft associated with the noise. There is no radar available over the Truckee community so it can’t be done. I mean sure, you could put a noise monitoring piece of equipment out there and tell that something made a noise of a certain decibel level with no idea of what it was or who caused it. And so I have been to several seminars, two of which have been put on by the University of California at Berkeley in Berkeley… Certainly I would support noise monitoring in the community but I just, at this point, know of no way that it can be done because there is no radar facility serving Truckee.Are jet aircraft appropriate for the small town character of the area in regard to the positive economic impacts and negative noise impacts that they bring?If I was king I would say, “let’s not have the noisy jets arrive at Truckee.” But I am not the king and the FAA is, and they do not allow airports within the national air transportation system to discriminate in that regard, unfortunately.Besides legal means there are ways you could deter jets from landing in the quantities that they are. Would you support measure to manage deter jets from landing at Truckee?We could raise landing fees, and in fact my platform suggests that we raise our landing fees to the maximum that is reasonable for airports of similar size in California. The FAA also has a rule that you cannot charge more than is reasonably justified as a cost associated with that charge… And those candidates for this board that suggest that there are ways of discouraging jets from coming here, I don’t believe have done their homework.Do you support revising the Airport Master Plan before the trigger the airport board set of 61,600 annual operations, or more than 15 percent of the total aircraft traffic being jet operations?I know that the Master Plan will never have any of its features implemented before it is revised again, so it would be an interesting waste of time and money and public effort. I don’t see us building any more hangars other than the ones the FAA would fund, which could be this heated hangar. Certainly they are not going to fund any more T-hangars and box hangars. They never have and they never will. I would argue vigorously and would do my darnednest to not allow any expansion of the airport facilities whatsoever. With that having been said I think any effort and cost associated with messing with the Master Plan would be unjustified… The point is nothing in that Master Plan is going to be built if I, and those who think like me, are elected to that board.The group you are supported by has suggested that if the Community Airport Restoration Effort slate is elected the airport could close. Do you believe that the CARE candidates intend to close the airport?I don’t know. Certainly I have observed their view with regard to the airport to change significantly during the election season. That concerns me. They have begun to sound a lot like us, and I don’t know why other than it is quite possible that their true feelings are recognized as unelectable… What I am trying to say is I don’t read minds. All I can do is read what I see in the paper and recognize that their has been a shift in the views expressed by those people running over the last year…Considering that five individuals have registered 354 percent of the 787 latest noise and low-flight complaints, do you believe the airport noise problem is being exaggerated?No. I think there is a wide variety of sensitivities to noise. Certainly the five individuals that registered those 45 percent of the noise complaints are at one very far edge of that spectrum. And those people that I have heard describe themselves as having moved to Truckee just so they can be near the airport, are at the other end of the spectrum. And it seems to me that it is very difficult to govern based on either end of that spectrum. You have to govern and make decision on as wide a center spectrum as you possibly can. Certainly we have to be sensitive to noise, and I think that my actions over the last eight years reflect that I am sensitive to those people near the edge, certainly not those five people that are hanging of the edge of the spectrum. And I have no clue who they are. I suspect it is probably available if I wanted to know it, but I don’t.
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