BY DONNA WESTFALL
We printed in Letters to the Editor (“McClure Effectively Kills Airport”) a scathing attack on Supervisor/Coastal Commissioner Martha McClure from a long time resident frustrated with all the hoops one has to jump through to get anything done in this town. After reviewing the Board of Supervisors meeting video held Tuesday, August 13 2013, and receiving an e-mail communication from Ms. McClure, I don’t think we can point the finger and put all the blame on her.
We’re dealing with a multi million dollar agency that has quasi-judicial powers. That’s the California Coastal Commission (CCC). Started in the early ’70’s to allow the public access to the beaches, they now have the power to hold up FOR YEARS, count ’em….eight years, the building of the Veteran’s Monument on the “S” curve; and currently the Airport upgrade/expansion.
Rumblings of a more user friendly Coastal Commission, a more cooperative, “Let’s get this done” attitude were pronounced during the Board Of Supervisors meeting by Sup. McClure and members of the public. However, I say PROVE IT.
Some of the reasons the permit on the airport was held up and not allowed to be put on this August Coastal Commission agenda boiled down to things like missing stamped envelopes, and Coastal Commission staff wanting the large color copies redone on 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper in black in white. Huh? What the frick? Do these people live in the real world? I don’t think so.
I’m sorry. Who died and made the Coastal Commission God?
One thing I learned during 4 years of being a council member is that whenever someone wanted to hold up anything, they would explain this is just too “complex and complicated.”
I say, get rid of the Coastal Commission and let’s start doing business without all this b.s. red tape. We need to put people to work and by that I mean we need to meet deadlines on grants instead of letting them expire.
Realistically, the grants for a couple million dollars expire this August 31. The Coastal Commission is having their next meeting covering the permit for the airport in September. Gee. Ya think they’re really going to approve this project? Not this year. Probably not next year. Why? Because they’ll come up with some more cockamamy b.s. conditions. I’d put money on it.
The one thing that nobody discussed was the possible closure of our airport. Let’s face it. If the FAA wants safer runways and says ours are not, I don’t think for one minute they would allow us to continue doing business indefinitely. Think about it. Close the airport and one more nail in the coffin for this town.
My favorite quote from the BOS meeting was from Supervisor David Finigan when he said that he didn’t want to be a Commissioner for the Coastal Commission since he wanted to destroy it. Thumbs up on that one, Finigan.
Now, anyone have any ideas on how to destroy the CCC?
2 thoughts on “McCLURE AND THE AIRPORT UPGRADE/EXPANSION”
Below is a letter I researched and drafted to urge the Coastal Commission not to side rail the building of the passenger terminal:
March 29, 2010
California Coastal Commission
Attn: James Baskin,
710 E Street, Suite 200
Eureka, CA 95501
Re Appeal No: A-1-DNC-09-48
Filed: November 9, 2009
Hearing Date: April 14, 2010
Appellants: Coastal Comm. Mary Shallenberger and Sara Wan, Friends of Del Norte
Applicant(s): Border Coast Regional Airport Authority
Project: Jack McNamara Airfield Passenger Terminal Replacement Project Location: 150 Dale Rupert Road, Crescent City, Del Norte County
Local Decision: Approval with Conditions
Local Permit #: UP0736C / B308031C
Dear Mr. Baskin,
The intent of this submission is to object to the assertion of jurisdiction by the Coastal Commission to find Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area where that designation is not extant in the present Del Norte County Local Coastal Plan.
Del Norte County is the owner of the land and improvements located at the Fred M. McNamara Airfield, as such; it is an interested party in this appeal even though the airport’s operation has been delegated to the Border Coast Regional Airport Authority.
The Jack McNamara Field serves the transportation needs of Del Norte and Curry Counties. The members of the Joint Powers Authority that operates and manages the airfield are Del Norte County, Crescent City, Curry County, Oregon, the City of Brookings, Oregon and the Elk Valley Rancheria, a federally recognized tribe.
Seventy-eight percent of Del Norte County land area is owned by state and federal agencies. The concomitant reduction in timber harvest volume has circumvented the county’s formerly timber-based economy. Even though government employees earn over fifty percent of the area’s income, Del Norte has the highest poverty rate in the State of California.
A primary strategy for survival is to develop a visitor-serving economy that is complimentary to recreational access to the coast as well as the area’s parkland. Both government personnel and visitors depend on commercial aviation. The provisions of the California Coastal Act of 1976 demonstrate the Legislature’s recognition of the need to balance competing interests of development for social and economic purposes with the effort to preserve the coastal zone. The Legislature stated that the policy of the act is to “Assure orderly, balanced utilization and conservation of coastal zone resources taking into account the social and economic needs of the people of the state.”
The Legislature also recognized the realities of economic development in California, stating at section 30001.2: “The Legislature further finds and declares that, notwithstanding the fact … coastal-dependent developments…may have significant adverse effects on coastal resources or coastal access, it may be necessary to locate such developments in the coastal zone in order to ensure that inland as well as coastal resources are preserved and that orderly economic development proceeds within the state.”
Maximization of public access (e.g. an airport) is one of several goals articulated in the act. Public Resources Code § 30210 makes specific reference to the public trust doctrine and emphasizes the need to consider public safety. The safety and efficiency of McNamara Field’s passenger handling facilities are severely limited and compromised by an outdated and substandard facility that was not designed for access for the disabled or for today’s increased federal Transportation Security Administration’s security requirements.
In the long run, commercial air carriers may not choose to serve Jack McNamara Field if it is not modernized and upgraded. Travel to the closest airfield with commercial service is an hour and twenty minutes away in Medford and Arcata, accessible only by narrow winding roadways that many travelers find daunting. The region’s inclement weather dictates that the terminal be positioned as near in proximity to parking and enplanements as permitted under federal aviation regulations.
Following Coastal Commission certification, the Local Coastal Plan was delegated to Del Norte for implementation.
The Planning Commission analyzed, in-depth the effect that the existence of Sitka Spruce Series and Beach Pine Series had upon the project. The classification of “forested palustrine wetlands” was appropriately applied. Mitigation measures were applied consistent with the requirements of 40 CFR 230.
There is, of course, a major difference between a wetland delineation, which is subject to mitigation, and an Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area (ESHA) designation, which habitat is entitled to the highest level of protection and is not subject to mitigation, disturbance or relocation regardless of its health. However, the basis of the pending appeal is the application of ESHA that is being made in the first instance by Coastal staff during this appeal process.
The Coastal Act limits the grounds for a CDP appeal “to an allegation that the development does not conform to the standards set forth in the certified local coastal program ….”. Whether the appeal raises a “substantial issue” is jurisdictionally dependant on whether the Commission can designate ESHA where the Commission-certified Local Coastal Plan declares that none exists. Del Norte’s LCP has been amended 71 times since its adoption. Not one of those amendments designates any portion of the project site as ESHA. Any attempt to do so now is beyond the authority and jurisdiction of the Commission.
Lastly, the appeal misconstrues the concept of “habitat” as it is applied to Sitka Spruce and Shore Pine because the analysis gauges the species prevalence within the State of California rather than its actual habitat. The State of California is a political jurisdiction of the United States. Spruce and Pines care nothing of how the United States is divided. They grow in a habitat that begins at Cape Mendocino and continues up to the most northern reaches of Washington. Although they are not as common in California, they are quite common along the coast of northern California, Oregon and Washington. In the park lands immediately north of the airport boundary are hundreds of protected acres of this exact same habitat.
Thank you for the curtesy that you are extending by reviewing and considering the issues that are being raised in this submission.
Very truly yours,
DOHN R. HENION
DEL NORTE COUNTY COUNSEL
I am glad you covered this important issue in the CC Times as the local opinion rag, aka “The
Triplicate” would simply ignore it or cover up this issue. Simply put I believe Dave Finigan did his best to keep the grants in place and save the airport improvements.
McClure could have put it on the August agenda and got the Coastal Development permit approved subject to receipt of the missing documents. McClure’s excuses are nonsense. McClure continues to play the cloak and dagger games that all elected environmentalists play, thus McClure can avoid taking responsibility for the loss of over $3 million in grants.
Just watch the Board of Supervisors meeting this week ,for an insight who supports McClure … hint they associate with the Friends of Del Norte, s group that wants no growth. no jobs and no economy. They want this place to stay a park. No one can prosper if these type of people continue destroying the engines of growth such as a functional airport.