Following public opposition, Ventura County will shelve plans to expand services such as commercial passenger and cargo flights at the Camarillo Airport.
In a survey conducted by FM3 Research, a Los Angeles firm that conducts public policy research, about two-thirds of the 600 Camarillo residents surveyed said they were against changing a 1976 agreement between the city and the county to allow for larger planes at the airport.
“The residents of Camarillo ... they have spoken loud and clear,” Camarillo Mayor Shawn Mulchay said at a City Council meeting on Wednesday, when the survey results were presented to the public. “Our residents love Camarillo. They love our quality of life. They feel very strongly about preserving the quality of life they have.”
In light of the survey results, Keith Freitas, director of the county’s Department of Airports, said Thursday the county has no intention of pushing for cargo and commercial flights at the Camarillo Airport.
“We’re going to use (the survey) as a roadmap in the future to get where we need to get,” he said. “The results were not unexpected. As the county, we serve constituents of the county as a whole.”
Freitas said the county has indefinitely suspended its current work on the airport’s master plan following approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. It will focus instead on updating the land map in order to have an up-to-date plan as required by the federal government in the coming years, he said.
Camarillo commissioned FM3 Research in June for $43,000 to gather the public’s opinion on changing the agreement to allow cargo and commercial passenger flights at the airport.
The 45-year-old agreement limits the size of aircraft that use the airport and states the airport is for general aviation purposes only.
The county began the process to amend the agreement while updating the airport’s master plan last spring. The city expressed its support for the original agreement in May, but wanted to continue a dialogue with the county.
Around that same time, the county suspended the master planning process, following public outcry.
The Oxnard Airport already has approval from the federal government to receive commercial airlines, though none do, Freitas said. In the future, the county will pursue expanding services at the airport, but would first gauge interest from the city of Oxnard and its residents.
Freitas noted there is more federal funding available for larger airports that the Camarillo Airport could be missing out on. A higher number of passengers flying out of the airport and more air cargo activity could put the county in a position to apply for more funding.
In September, FM3 Research gathered feedback by phone and online from Camarillo residents over the age of 18. The respondents were asked whether they support adding cargo and commercial flight services to the airport.
About 54% of the respondents said they didn’t support either service, while 35% wanted commercial passenger service and 31% supported cargo planes, according to the survey results.
After hearing arguments in favor and against the expansion, about 64% of respondents were against the changes to the agreement at the end of the survey. About 34% supported adding services to the airport.
FM3 Research also looked into whether the distance between the respondents' residence and the airport influenced their opinions. Richard Bernard, of FM3 Research, said on Wednesday there was no pattern between respondents’ opinions and their distance from the airport.
“It doesn’t matter where the geography is. It matters where the flight pattern is,” Marc Wolfsohn, a 41-year resident of Camarillo, said at the City Council meeting.
He said he sees planes flying over his home all weekend. Allowing commercial passenger and cargo planes in Camarillo would only increase the overhead traffic, he said.
In other City Council action:
The council approved an ordinance in its second reading to allow private mediation services for tenant and landlord rental disputes. A mediator will replace the Rent Review Mediation Commission and its public meetings.
This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Survey says no: Public against expanding services at Camarillo Airport