Monterey Airport officials have been talking with the leaders of Del Rey Oaks for years about building an access road through the city.
Although located next door, Del Rey Oaks has no direct path from the city to the airport. To get there, drivers have to go through Monterey on Olmsted Road or Airport Road in the Casanova Avenue neighborhood.
Now, city officials seem to be seriously considering the access road proposal. Residents will be able to comment on the plan during a Planning Commission meeting Wednesday.
The proposed road would start near Calle Del Oaks and Del Rey Gardens Road, which leads onto Highway 218 and isn't far from the condominium complex known as the Oaks. North Access Road would lead to Airport Road and the northeast corner of the airport. It is here where airport officials would like to develop more hangars for private planes.
Airport officials have emphasized that the connection could be an important safety link between the two points. The airport pays the city $100,000 annually to provide four hours of patrol early in the morning.
What's not entirely clear is what city officials or the city's residents think of the idea.
Mayor Jack Russell said city officials have to first see the full proposal before coming to any decision.
A draft of the initial study for North Access Road has been available for public review since December. The 20-day review period ends Wednesday, the same day the Planning Commission will take up the matter.
According to the initial study, prepared by Denise Duffy and Associates, an environmental impact review is not necessary now because a draft was prepared in 1996.
Airport General Manager Tom Greer said the proposal makes all the sense in the world. "Why would the city not want to have access to the airport?"
As for concerns that it would create a traffic glut, Greer said airport officials have promised to control the access to the road so people wouldn't be tempted to use it as a shortcut.
"Although I don't see why anyone would," Greer said. "It would be a very serpentine road."
Access would be limited to public safety personnel and to people with business interests in that portion of the airport.
The new artery would also help alleviate traffic along Airport Road, which abuts the thickly inhabited Casanova Avenue residential area.
Any traffic relief would be good news, said Richard Ruccello, president of the Casanova-Oak Knoll Neighborhood Association. Ruccello said his neighborhood continues to wrestle with traffic problems caused by the airport.
He believes the access road would be a positive development for Del Rey Oaks because more people means more commerce. People driving through town would need gas and coffee.
"I can guarantee in a year after that road opens there will be a Starbucks next to Jerry Graham's," Ruccello said, referring to the auto body business on Calle Del Oaks.
The initial study indicates that a new access road is necessary ahead of any development on the northeast portion of the airport. Now, some airplanes are parked in that area of the airport along with the Navy Flying Club, Greer said.
Ruccello said it would be more convenient for those doing business on an industrial aviation park to reach it by Canyon Del Rey Boulevard rather than through the residential streets of the Casanova neighborhood.
Although the airport district owns the property within Del Rey Oaks upon which a small portion of the road would be built, the project is contingent on city approval. The bulk of the road would be on airport property.
City approval would require amending the city's general plan, which specifically forbids the "north side access from Highway 218 and Del Rey Gardens Drive or any airport access road through the city of Del Rey Oaks."
While the initial study found no significant impacts from the proposed construction of the new road, it did point to several issues that pose some small and large hurdles that could be addressed with proper measures.
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