Letters to the Editor

SLO airport helps to boost economy

I believe that the editorial from Sunday, Oct. 19 overlooked several important and pertinent points on the San Luis Obispo Airport: noise, economic impact and relentless forces for closure.

The Airport Land Use Commission (ALUC) mission includes, “To provide for the orderly development of the areas surrounding public use airports within the county so that new developments are not likely ultimately to cause restrictions to be placed on flight operations to or from the airport.”

Having housing in the flight paths of airplanes produces many complaints from the population living there and ultimately leads to much ill will and discussions about closing the airport or severely restricting operations.

Because the airport is a vital part of the economy of the San Luis area, any restrictions would be bad for the community. From the 2005 Airport Master Plan, Appendix D, Table B1 Summary of Economic Benefits FY2003: “$142M revenue; $38.3M earnings; and 1541 employment.” The numbers will likely be higher today.

For a current example, Santa Monica has two conflicting measures on the November ballot concerning the long-term viability of that airport. Santa Monica allowed housing right up to the border of the airport and has had nothing but strife from residents against the noise and perceived hazards (many of which have been shown to be untrue). Developers want to turn the airport area into housing.

Just because the airport was already there when one buys a house under the flight path doesn’t stop homeowners from complaining, even if they have signed a waiver. San Luis Obispo Airport has numerous complaints from neighbors already. How much more time and county effort will be spent if the city of SLO allows more housing?

The ALUC is oft maligned, but does many hours of volunteer work protecting the airport. There are too many examples of cities that have ignored their ALUC and regretted it later. Once you have used space around an airport, it can never be recovered.