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August 19, 2022

Watsonville Airport business files complaint against city to federal agency

WATSONVILLE—An attorney for a business that has operated at Watsonville Municipal Airport for 56 years has filed a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration against the city of Watsonville and the airport.

In the filing, attorney Glynn Falcon says that the airport has not fully complied with a Santa Cruz County Superior Court judge’s order to remove a series of barriers placed at United Flight Services (UFS).

The filing also states that the city and the airport are practicing economic discrimination by charging UFS and the adjacent business Norcal Avionics more for leases than other airport businesses.

“As long as they keep doing that, we’ll keep filing with the FAA,” said attorney Glynn Falcon.

While the FAA does not have the ability to enforce any rules, the agency can withhold federal grants and other funding if federal rules are violated, Falcon said.

Airport Manager Rayvon Williams said that he and the City are aware of the filing, but declined to comment on the matter.

Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Timothy Volkmann ruled in July that Watsonville Municipal Airport officials were in the wrong when they placed barriers placed at a business nearly three years ago that blocked an access point to the runways.

In response, Falcon says, Williams removed some of the barriers but left others in place that makes it difficult for small planes to maneuver.

Huffaker told this newspaper in February that the barriers were put in place after airport staff saw UFS customers and employees driving through the ramp instead of using Aviation Way, which he says created a safety issue. 

Williams says that he believes the airport has complied and says that UFS has access per the Superior Court Judge’s order.

Falcon also says that Williams has suggested a new airport rule and a new airport layout plan that effectively negates Volkmann’s ruling and would prevent both businesses from using the ramp and remove their implied easement.

Williams says the impending rules would not affect any of the judge’s orders.

It is not clear whether Falcon plans to again pursue the issue with the barriers in court.

“All things are on the table right now, and we’ll do what we have to to make sure the airport remains compliant with the judge’s order,” he said.

Williams says that the airport’s goal has always been to “strengthen and expand, especially aeronautical activities.”

“Recent examples of our strong track record are the expansion of Specialized Helicopters, support of Reach Air Medical/Calstar move to a vacated hangar facility, and renewal of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s lease,” he said.


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