Flight path cleared; talk of relocating Los Banos airport

cpride@losbanosenterprise.comMay 23, 2014 

The city is in the process of clearing the flight path leading to the Los Banos Municipal Airport and talk is afoot about a possible relocation.

Public Works Director Mark Fachin informed the Airport Advisory Commission that City Manager Steve Carrigan has proposed relocating the airport from Airport Road along West I Street to Mercey Springs Road near Interstate 5.

The airport would be accompanied by an industrial park

“It’s very, very in its infancy,” Fachin said. “It’s maybe a way to have an industrial park close to a freeway hub.”

Los Banos has wanted to relocate the airport for years. At its current location, the Federal Aviation Administration forbids the city from having three-story buildings and a variety of other structures within a four-mile radius of the airport. The city’s general plan has Los Banos expanding west of the airport.

Fachin said there are no plans to close the facility.

Also Tuesday, Fachin said he had been contacted by the FAA.

“You might have noticed our pruning at the old McDonald’s closed-down parking lot and Me-N-Ed’s. That’s all mandated by the FAA,” Fachin said. “We’re correcting about nine trees. They had a special survey of trees that were 30 feet, so they hadn’t been trimmed in a while.”

Fachin said the FAA demanded tree trimming be conducted south of the airport at San Luis Plaza and to the east at the pizza parlor or else nighttime flying in Los Banos would be eliminated.

“They absolutely would have restricted night flight,” he said.

Fachin said the Public Works Department did most of the work, but some was contracted out to a private company. The money for the project was taken from the city’s airport maintenance budget.

Fachin said it is part of the city’s responsibility to keep the flight path of its airport clear of visual obstructions and the cost for doing so cannot be passed to businesses.

Paul Cardoza, the parks and recreation operations manager, said some trees had to be relocated.

“We have a few we have to trim, then we have to replant a couple trees,” he said.

Other trees were removed. A palm tree was cut down at the former McDonald’s restaurant in the San Luis Plaza shopping center.

Fachin said the tree trimming work has taken place in the past few weeks and there is more to be done.

The FAA has given the city six months to complete the project.

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