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Some airport issues don’t get off the ground

Guest Column

The recent articles and letters regarding the Truckee Tahoe Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan (CLUP) have focused much attention on the airport. The responsible agency for undertaking this CLUP is the Foothill Airport Land Use Commission. As the community works with the commission, it is important that we do not lose sight of the primary goal of the plan: Promote compatible land uses that benefit all stakeholders.

The CLUP and the Airport Master Plan are not the same thing, despite allegations by several recent writers.



The Master Plan informs the CLUP, but their respective purposes, processes and the entities that adopt them are different. The Master Plan was adopted in 2000 after extensive public process.

The CLUP serves as a guide for local planning bodies on which to base General Plan and specific project decisions.



By state law general plans must be consistent with a CLUP, but the same authority that adopts a general plan can still override the policies in the CLUP by two-thirds vote.

An adopted CLUP may have ramifications for specific plans, like building a multiplex movie theater under a flight path. But, will not adopting a CLUP change whether a particular project is really OK on any particular piece of property?

It is the purpose of the CLUP process to analyze issues and work toward solutions with stakeholders, not ignore points of conflict hoping they will just go away.

All the current stakeholders are talking with the Land Use Commission to see where solutions can be found. In the end, the airport board does not vote on the CLUP, while the laws and rules that drive the CLUP process enable local planning entities to balance community needs by overriding any specific provision in the CLUP.

The CLUP has been criticized for forecasting operations (one take-off or landing) at 120,000 per year. This represents an artificially magnified situation some 20 years in the future for planning purposes.

A recent letter stating that Truckee Tahoe Airport will see more than 600 flights a day and, “that is more than Reno-Tahoe Airport,” is wrong. For the last three years, the Reno airport averaged 141,268 operations per year, or 387 per day.

Airport size is not a determinant of demand. Rather, what lies beyond the boundaries of the airport is what brings people to the area. While the size of the airport enables access for certain types of aircraft, it also blocks out other types of aircraft; Truckee has gliders and Reno has airliners.

The process and regulations involved in creating the CLUP come from federal and state law guidelines. While the plan can not undo inconsistent land use decisions made in the past, it can provide a basis for conscious analysis and decision making that promotes the desires of all stakeholders.

Dave Gotschall is general manager of Truckee Tahoe Airport.


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