City must update general plan to build around airport
At the Aug. 24 Watsonville City Council meeting, while discussing the housing project at 547 Airport Blvd., some council members implied that the Watsonville Pilots Association (WPA) had been involved in lawsuits with Target, Home Depot and the developer of the housing project behind Target, but the WPA has never been involved in disputes with those organizations. The WPA lawsuits against the city have involved the General Plan. Three court decisions in 2008, 2010 and 2014 ordered the City to incorporate airport land use planning (referred to as the California Division of Aeronautics (CDOA) Handbook) into the current Watsonville 2005 General Plan.
At the July 28 Watsonville Airport Advisory Committee (WAAC) meeting, the City’s principal planner from the Community Development Department (CDD) presented a self-storage project at 70 Neilson St., located in the Airport Influence Area (the land within two miles of the airport boundary). When the WAAC questioned the validity of approving this project without the General Plan including mandated land use planning, the City planner informed the WAAC that the City has been approving development permits within the Airport Influence Area since 2016 despite the inadequacies of the General Plan and would continue to do so. At the Aug. 24 City Council meeting, the City planner stated that the CDOA Handbook was only a “guiding document” and that the 547 Airport Blvd. project met the requirements of the Handbook. Merely considering the CDOA Handbook criteria when evaluating development projects in the Airport Influence Area does not comply with the court mandates nor make the process legally acceptable. The City Attorney claimed that the court orders were not retroactive and only applied to a future General Plan but the courts have clearly ordered the City to apply the mandates to the current 2005 General Plan. Without doing so, the City does not have the authority to legally approve development projects in the Airport Influence Area.
The Watsonville Airport pilot community supports development and the creation of affordable housing in Watsonville but objects to approving projects in the Airport Influence Area until the City incorporates the mandated land use planning into their current General Plan. The City continues to collect permit fees from well-intentioned applicants without fully educating them on the inadequacies of the current General Plan or the court mandates. Huge amounts of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on lawsuits because the City has not complied with the court orders or CDOA requirements.
Marjorie Bachman, WAAC Chairperson
What’s the problem with having concern with the lives of others?
We have freedoms in our country, provided they are not abused. In a variation of this, why are some obsessed that their own personal freedoms be allowed even though they unfortunately will penalize so many others? The present virus has already proven to be fatal to many and even more dangerously mutates the longer it exists. Facts proved the vaccinations were allowing a return to normal. Unfortunately, some who refuse to do their part are forcing a return to the wearing of masks.
Despite being back to requiring wearing masks, simply touching an item could become a source for someone to get the deadly virus. As an engineer, I believe in science which is clear that the vaccine works. Regardless of how the present virus originated, it has proven to be fatal to many and mutate the longer it is allowed to exist. Why is anyone allowing this to continue?
Please let’s all get vaccinated before we may all have to go back to being isolated in our homes again, while even more organizations are forced to go out of business.
Bob Fifield, Aptos
Recall election is a waste
The election to recall our governor is an outrageous waste of money. It will cost $1.36 million dollars in Santa Cruz County alone.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has done nothing to justify being recalled, a short 14 months before the end of his term. None of the other candidates are even remotely qualified to be governor.
Say NO to the recall, so we can maintain our progress in fighting Covid and climate change, and continue to protect women’s healthcare choice and the environment.
Stephanie Singer, Santa Cruz
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