Feds, Town of Truckee have airport solutions
It never ceases to amaze me how people fail to accept the reality of a situation. On countless occasions, the public has been informed that air traffic and overflights are governed under the auspices of the Federal Aviation Administration, and restrictions on air traffic are commensurately controlled by that agency. Yet time and time again, members of the public seek to blame the Truckee Tahoe Airport for air traffic and overflight.A recent My Turn column by a second homeowner, (“No restrictions are no good for airport” Sept. 3 Sierra Sun) again wrongfully discounts the value of our airport. The opinions of this individual are representative of the misinformation campaign being waged by anti-airport advocates.The author of the column states that it is “… disingenuous … to lay the blame of citizen’s concerns about the airport at the doorstep of Truckee Town Hall…”Well unlike the Town of Truckee, the airport has little ability to restrict housing development in and around the airport. It is town government that is growing this community like wildfire in order to fuel its very own bureaucracy of more than 100 employees. Responsible growth and development would dictate that housing development be as far away from the airport and flight paths of the airport as possible. But the Town of Truckee has shown an irreverent disregard to take on this responsibility. If you want to curtail aircraft operations, build fewer homes. That’s the root of the problem. We live in a growing community, and there is always going to be a certain percentage of the population who will choose aviation as their mode of travel.The Board of Directors at the airport have a fiduciary responsibility to abide by federal aviation regulations, promote general aviation, and ensure the continued viability of the airport. Perhaps the writer fails to realize, or recognize, that the Airport District includes all of the California side of North Lake Tahoe, in addition to Truckee and it’s surrounding area. Accordingly, as a public use facility, we are obligated to permit access to all whom desire access to the airport, at all times, even if they do not reside in Truckee. In June 2004, the FAA’s Civil Rights Division ruled that restrictions imposed by airports in efforts aimed at reducing or restricting air traffic were illegal. In particular, this ruling stemmed from the Burbank Airport Authority’s attempt to implement a curfew. The FAA indicated that while it was sympathetic to the concerns of the 5,400 households located within one mile of the airport, such actions on the part of the airport authority were discriminatory in nature and were against public policy. What people need to recognize is that as a public-use facility, the Truckee Tahoe Airport District has no legal authority to restrict air traffic. Further, the airport is open to everyone at any time, no matter where they reside or what their purpose of use is. That’s the result of the liberties we enjoy in this country.The author of the column also stated that Park City doesn’t have an airport. Obviously, he hasn’t spent enough time in Park City to know that within less than ten miles of Park City, there is an airport the size of Truckee Tahoe Airport, which according to the FAA, sees an average of 101 operations per day. Ironically, Truckee Tahoe Airport has the same daily operations estimate, 101 average operations per day. Like Truckee Tahoe Airport, there’s is a small vocal group citizens voicing their concerns about the airport near Park City. Also similar to Truckee Tahoe Airport, the airport near Park City isn’t in Park City. Truckee Tahoe Airport isn’t located in Truckee, nor is it located in North Lake Tahoe. Airports are located in areas where there is ample terrain clearance and flat land to accommodate air traffic and build runways. The writer’s recent home purchase is representative of many existing homeowners throughout the country. Most people purchase a home without looking at the local airport. They move into the home, and then have buyer’s remorse over their failure to properly assess the impact that the airport might have upon them. Nationwide, buyers fail to conduct their due diligence on this matter at an alarming rate. As a result, the State of California enacted legislation that went into effect this year to add a provision to the Business & Professions Code requiring Realtors and sellers to provide disclosure to prospective buyers if the property under consideration was in an airport influence zone. Unfortunately, most buyers shrug this off without taking it seriously enough before the purchase of their home. While I empathize with the homeowners in our community with regards to overflight, I would encourage all concerned parties to concentrate their efforts and endeavors on the FAA and the Town of Truckee. Those are the agencies which have the authority to control air traffic and restrict growth in and around our airport respectively Michael Golden is a director of the Truckee Tahoe Airport District
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