Camarillo Airport Update

By Logan McFadden

At the Camarillo City Council meeting on March 9, 2016, the manager of the Camarillo and Oxnard airports presented an overview of recent developments. The airports generate $300 million in economic benefit in the communities. The airports log 250,000 take offs and landings annually; two thirds in Camarillo and one third in Oxnard. Two hundred tons of cargo passes through the airports each year. Over the past 13 years, $50 million of private investment and $36 million of federal and state grants have improved the airports with commercial properties, 240,000 square feet of retail space, airplane hangars and amenities. Congresswoman Julia Brownley serves on the aviation sub-committee of the Council on Airport Authority. The Camarillo airport has a restaurant and large public viewing area. Solar panels will provide 70% of projected electricity needs. Within the next two years a runway reconstruction project will be completed. The Camarillo airport will be shut down for three months while operations are diverted to the Oxnard airport.

Currently, in Camarillo there is a 5-7 year wait to rent a hangar. The airport is starting phase one (45 hangars) of 80,000 square feet of new hangar space to meet current and future demand. The FAA is contributing $4 million. A commercial developer will fund and build out the remaining $5 million of the expansion to include business and retail space. A condition for FAA funding was connecting the city airport to city water. The city of Camarillo provided funding for the water project. The airport will repay the city with lease revenues. New commercial build out and safety zone will be compatible with the proposed hotel and conference center.

The annual air show will be held on August 20th and 21st.

Two residents expressed their dissatisfaction with the actions taken when the 2014 Camarillo Fiesta Association embezzlement of $24,000 by the CFA president came to light. Per Mayor Mike Morgan, the funds were stolen through a series of thefts. CFA is dependent on tax dollars and city services to stage their events. Mr. Morgan was instrumental in guiding the CFA committee through its options. Charges were not pressed. One resident said “the same treatment” should apply to all white collar crime, i.e. pressing charges. Matt Lorimer said taxpayers should be able to trust community leaders and hold them accountable. Roy Villa, a Camarillo resident, in a March 11, 2016 letter to the Acorn newspaper editor stated that the nonprofit committee members and others “for allowing this $24,000 embezzlement and failing to properly disclose the crime should resign”. At the end of the day, the committee and Mayor Morgan accepted $20,000 repayment from the president’s father plus a $4,000 note receivable due in monthly payments from the president. This was the preferred alternative versus “sending the president to prison” and losing the money. Matt Lorimer expressed that justice was not exacted.

The City Council has been approached several times over the past two years by Lamplighter Mobile Home Park residents seeking a rent control ordinance. The council referred the residents to a non-binding rent arbitration hearing which the city has had in place for several years. The parties reached a satisfactory rent increase for the 2015; however, the park owner ultimately increased the space rent in excess of the agreement. A new resident came forward on March 9th asking the city to take action to stop her space rent from going up from $1,275 to $2,500 per year (96% increase). Coincidentally, the council had already planned to meet later in the evening with staff to discuss actions the city may take, if any.

The city received a $281,000 annual Community Development Block Grant from Housing and Urban Development (HUD). From 1974 -2003 HUD has granted $4.5 million to the city. A presentation setting forth the community nonprofit agencies who applied for a portion of the funds was given. The council members discussed the “fairness” of staff recommendations and made one very small change.

The grant distribution is limited to a maximum of 15% for public service programs, 65% for housing programs and 20% for administration. Nine local applicants received a total of $42,165. Each applicant met at least one of the following criteria: (1) benefit low and moderate income community members, (2) address conditions that create adverse health, safety, or welfare of the community, (3) provide a safe living environment including preventing slums or eliminating blight. Habitat for Humanity and City Housing Rehabilitation each received $91,000.

The city’s five year plan improves the quality of housing, provides services to the homeless and seniors with special needs. The plan also provides fair housing opportunities.

Camarillo Airport - Control Tower

Camarillo Airport – Control Tower

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Logan McFadden is a Citizensjournal.us city reporter and a recently retired banker, residing in Camarillo. He volunteers for the Heritage Action Sentinel team and serves as the AMAC Delegate to the 26th Congressional District.

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