City Considers Developing Land at Small California Airport

San Bernardino County and Chino would benefit from the 150 acres available for development.

CHINO, California - The City Council voted on Tuesday to pay almost $24,000 to hire a consulting firm to study how to best develop land at Chino Airport.

San Bernardino County owns the land, which was annexed into the city in 1992. As a result, the county and city share revenue from certain parts of the airport's operation.

Earl Nelson, Chino director of redevelopment, said the city and county are taking a logical approach by evaluating the best use of the airport's land.

"The city is doing it to make sure it's an economic development for citizens of the county as well as the city," he said.

But, county officials said, any future development must pertain to aviation use.

Chino Airport encompasses 860 acres of land, of which 40 percent is already developed, said Bill Ingraham, accredited airport executive for San Bernardino County Airports.

About 400 acres is used for runways and taxiways and cannot be developed, but roughly 150 acres are available for development, Ingraham said.

Consulting firm CB Richard Ellis of El Segundo will conduct the study.

"We are looking at the entire airport itself, not counting the runways," said Thomas Jirovsky, managing director of CBRE. "We're looking at all the airport property that's available, including leased land."

The main reason for the study is to develop a plan to best use the property, Ingraham said.

"One of the first tasks is to look at what areas can potentially be developed," he said.

Aviation uses on the proposed new development could include hangars as well as fixed base operations, such as service facilities, fuel and storage, Ingraham said.

"The less obvious uses are maintenance facilities and corporate facilities," he said.

Councilwoman Eunice Ulloa said unless the new development includes retail, it won't generate revenue for the city. But she was in favor of creating jobs by developing service centers at the airport.

"I'm inclined to support anything that creates jobs," said Ulloa, who is hopeful for additional hangar space.

"There's a shortage of hangar space and a waiting list for people who need hangar space."

John Frymyer, Chino Airport manager, said there is such high demand to fly into and out of the airport that the hangars are generally full.

"You might see between one and three spaces (hangars) a month become available between county and leased hangars," he said.

The waiting list for hangars at the airport has almost 100 people on it, he said. Of the almost 500 hangars at the airport, 260 are owned and operated by the county and the rest are leased out.

More than 1,000 aircraft are stored at the airport, Frymyer said.

The community would benefit from additional hangars, he said, because they bring about 1 percent of the value of the aircraft back to the city. Pilots who rent the hangars also take advantage of the airport's other services, such as fuel and maintenance.

The establishment of a corporate facility at Chino Airport has also been suggested, said Paul Herrera, communications coordinator for the county's economic development agency.

The corporate facility would be similar to the Guardian Jet Center at LA/Ontario International Airport, and would include luxury services, such as a lounge, a baggage terminal, shower facilities, jet parking, a fuel station and a maintenance facility.

"It's just more of an intuitive idea," Herrera said. But, he added, it would be ideal because of Chino's proximity to Orange and Los Angeles counties and because of the demand for use at Chino Airport.

The Chino Airport in 2006 recorded 156,000 takeoffs and landings and remains one of the busiest airports in San Bernardino County.

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