Pilots push Dublin for FAA study

An association representing aircraft owners and pilots is urging Dublin to make sure a proposed residential high-rise project on the citys east side wouldnt present a hazard to pilots using the Livermore Municipal Airport.

While the airport may not be within the Dublin City limits or planning areas, nonetheless, the city has a legal and moral responsibility -- both in federal and state law -- to ensure that any construction project contemplated is not a hazard to the air navigation in the area or would pose a risk to your citizens, Bill Dunn, vice president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association wrote in a letter to Dublin Mayor Janet Lockhart.

The Maryland-based pilots group is referring to the Grafton Plaza project, four residential towers ranging from 16 to 21 stories at the corner of Dublin Boulevard and Grafton Street.

The project also has plans for a 100-room boutique hotel, condominiums, live-work units and a luxury gym and spa. The project, if approved as is, would have the largest tower in the East Bay outside of Oakland and Emeryville, dwarfing Dublins tallest buildings -- the two six-story Sybase buildings.

The organization of more than 4,000 members is not against the project if a FAA study determines there is no hazard to planes using the airport

2.3 miles away, said Chris Dancy, the groups spokesman.

We want to be sure that he city of Dublin is aware that there is an obstruction evaluation process when you do a building in the vicinity of an airport, Dancy said.

The FAA requires a developer to submit an application for a study based on a 1-to-100 ratio, said Ian Gregor, FAA spokesman.

If a proposed building is a 100 feet from the end of a runway and is one foot tall, the developer has to file for a study. The Grafton Plaza towers site is 2.3 miles northwest of the airport, 12,144 feet.

If the buildings are taller than 121.4 feet, a study would be required to see how the building would affect the local airspace.

The towers minimum heights, as proposed, would range from 160 to 210 feet tall and therefore require developer Charter Properties to file with the FAA for a study. The study may find the buildings may cause no hazard at all. It is up to the city to determine what to do with the studys information.

The FAA doesnt have the authority to tell local governments what it can and cannot allow, Gregor said.

Lockhart received the letter after the citys first public hearing on the project Aug. 14.

She said she is aware of the height issue, as she is a member of Alameda County Land Airport Land Use Commission.

City officials will consider how tall is too tall as the project is studied further. The letter was a good sign as it shows that people are thinking about the issues, she said, but the project is no where near approval, she said.

Were so far from a decision on it, Lockhart said. I dont know if I will still be in office when the decision comes down. Lockhart is termed out next year.

The group wanted to warn Dublin about the FAA regulations to prevent the mistake San Diego made. A 180-foot building was constructed after it was declared a hazard by the FAA for being too tall to be less than a mile from a public airfield. The project has turned into a fiasco.

The top two stories some how have to be removed. Lawsuits have been filed and some city officials have since resigned.

Sophia Kazmi covers Dublin. Reach her at skazmi@cctimes.com or 925-847-2122.