Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - October 1, 2010

Airport agreement ends years of Pleasanton-Livermore disputes

The Livermore and Pleasanton city councils have put their heads together and come up winners. Last week both councils approved resolutions putting to rest years of disputes over noise and expansion issues at the Livermore Municipal Airport, which both cities now agree is of vital importance to business, local aircraft owners and for emergency preparedness. The resolutions keep in place liaison committees assigned by both councils to meet quarterly on airport issues and to make public noise monitoring reports from end-of-the-runway detection devices and telephone complaints. Livermore airport authorities have long contended that the bulk of complaints from Pleasanton residents come from a few of the same households that don't like the recreational single engine craft flying over their homes, mostly on weekends, and from others complaining about large jets heading to or coming from Oakland and San Jose airports that seem to be flying over Pleasanton at an increasing rate.

When it comes to noise, there's not much Pleasanton, Dublin or even the residents of Livermore can do about it. Noise mitigation measures that were put into place at some local and regional Bay Area airports in the 1980s can no longer be imposed. In the 1990s, in a series of moves to strengthen and solidify regulations at theses airports, the federal government ruled that any plane meeting Federal Aviation Administration requirements can land and take off at any airport under FAA supervision, including Livermore. That being the case, the two city councils voted last week to have the Tri-Valley cities jointly lobby their federal representatives to support legislation to phase-out older, noisy jets, which are causing the major problem. Speaking in a coordinated manner, the mayors of the Tri-Valley cities can raise the issue in their annual meetings to federal representatives in Washington, D.C., as well as at national and regional associations they attend.

Both Livermore and Pleasanton could also establish a community forum of airport stakeholders to meet and discuss noise and flyover issues. Hayward's Community Airport Noise Forum meets quarterly and includes residents from San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Hayward and Southgate, a pilots group, helicopter pilots and jet operators. The Aviation Advisory Committee for Buchanan Field in Concord includes residents from Concord, Pleasant Hill, Diablo Valley College, members at large, representatives from the airport and residents from each of the county supervisors' districts. A similar community group for the Livermore Airport could include the Tri-Valley cities, Las Positas College and those from the new developments planned on Staples Ranch, which borders the airport.

Cooperation between Livermore and Pleasanton has come a long way since the days when an outdated 1975 General Plan for the airport contained the possibility of longer runways and other accommodations that could attract more jets. The Livermore council scuttled that plan and its new General Plan amendment tightly controls growth at and around the airport without stifling the benefits for the region it serves.

Airport holding open house

The Livermore Municipal Airport is holding an open house from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. tomorrow with exhibits, food, entertainment, a display of Livermore-based aircraft, and an aerial performance. The local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association will sign up youngsters 8-17 for rides at a later date.

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