Livermore Airport, Calif. Users Warn Against Development

Concerned about possible future noise complaints, the City Council has issued a strongly worded letter to Pleasanton urging it to reject a proposed senior housing project west of the Livermore airport.

The project would be on the Alameda County-owned Staples Ranch property outside the adopted airport protection area, where homes are prohibited. But it would be closer to the airport than many existing Pleasanton homes, where some residents already are complaining about airport noise.

Several pilots at Monday night's council meeting objected to the proposed housing development.

"I support the council in taking this affirmative step to protect the Livermore airport from further encroachment," said pilot Brett Wayne.

"Residential building of any type near the airport is not a good idea," agreed Ralph Cloud, chairman of Livermore's Airport Advisory Commission.

The council members said they would keep a close eye on potential changes made to Dublin's development plans for its east side although, so far, Dublin officials have promised they will not move housing closer to the adopted airport protection area.

In a related matter, the council approved a 5.5 percent increase in airport hangar rental rates to bring Livermore's rate closer to those charged elsewhere, but pilots persuaded it to delay action on using some of the money to cover initial costs of noise monitoring and reduction programs.

Council members indicated they may instead consider paying for such programs out of the city's general fund, and possibly ask Pleasanton and Dublin -- which benefit from the airport's business jet activity -- to share the costs.

"Putting an undue fiscal burden on airport users to meet the unfounded demands of a portion of the community is, in essence, placing a penalty tax on their airport users," Cloud said. "If Pleasanton and Dublin wish to participate in noise monitoring, they should pay their share."

Several pilots questioned how noise-monitoring information would be used because a past Pleasanton study showed that no state or federal noise standards are being exceeded.

"I will vigorously oppose any efforts to assess punitive fines to owners of aircraft that are found to exceed an arbitrary noise level established by the city," Wayne said.

The issue will be further discussed next month.

Council members Mark Beeman and Tom Reitter raised concerns that asking Pleasanton and Dublin to help fund the monitoring program would erode Livermore's control over it.

Dublin Mayor Janet Lockhart said she needs more information on what kind of cost sharing might be proposed before commenting, but Pleasanton Mayor Jennifer Hosterman said she is open to discussion.

"My initial sense is that it's a Livermore city airport and so the city of Livermore ought to spend whatever money is necessary to mitigate the noise issues," Hosterman said. "But that said, it is a regional concern and I certainly have not taken a position."

Also Monday, the council donated $12,000 from the city's pubic art fund toward completion of the "Wine Country Wall" mural located on South J Street downtown.

Members also adjusted fees for the Las Positas and Springtown municipal golf courses, which changes some discount programs at the Las Positas course aimed at increasing play.