Sunday, March 1, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

FAA, developers clash over tall buildings

By
From page B6 | June 27, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — The government wants to dramatically reduce the allowable height of potentially thousands buildings near airports around the country — a proposal that is drawing fire from real estate developers, local officials and members of Congress who say it will hurt property values.

The Federal Aviation Administration proposal, supported by airports and airlines, is driven by encroaching development that limits safe flight paths for planes that might lose power in an engine during takeoff. Planes can fly with only one engine, but they have less power to climb quickly over obstacles.

Local business leaders, who see airports as a means to attract development, say they fear office towers and condominium complexes will have to be put on hold until developers and zoning boards can figure out what the agency’s proposal means for their communities. In Tempe, Arizona, for example, local Chamber of Commerce President Mary Ann Miller said she fears almost any new building in the city’s downtown would face new restrictions because the community is located near the edge of Phoenix Sky Harbor’s runways.

“Coming out of a very long recession, we hate the idea of stopping some growth,” she said.

In Florida, the Miami City Commission passed a resolution two weeks ago that said the proposal “may be detrimental to the overall growth and economic prosperity” of the city’s downtown and urged the FAA to conduct a study of its potential economic impact before moving forward.

Airlines have to plan for the possibility that a plane could lose the use of an engine during takeoff even though that doesn’t happen very often. As more buildings, cellphone towers, wind turbines and other tall structures go up near airports, there are fewer safe flight paths available. Current regulations effectively limit building heights based on the amount of clearance needed by planes with two operating engines.

Airlines already must sometimes cut down on the number of passengers and the amount of cargo carried by planes taking off from airports in Burbank and San Jose in California, and in Honolulu, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, and near Washington, D.C., among others, so they will be light enough to clear obstructions if only one engine is available, said Chris Oswald, vice president of the Airports Council International-North America.

The problem is exacerbated in hot weather when air is less dense and planes require more power during takeoff. Bigger planes that carry lots of passengers and cargo on lucrative international flights are especially affected.

Airports worry that the problem could cost airlines enough money that they’ll find some routes unprofitable and eliminate service, Oswald said.

The FAA’s proposal would change the way the agency assesses proposals to build new structures or modify existing structures near 388 airports to take into account the hazard that would be created to one-engine takeoffs. For example, under the proposal future buildings constructed 10,000 feet from the end of a runway and within a designated flight path would have a maximum allowable height of 160 feet instead of the current limit of 250 feet, according to an analysis by the Weitzman Group, a New York real estate consulting firm. As the distance from an airport increases, the allowable building height increases as well. The proposal could affect buildings as far as 10 miles from an airport.

Planes taking off usually follow one of about a half-dozen possible flight paths. To limit the number of buildings and other structures affected by the proposal, the FAA is recommending airports and local zoning boards work together to select a single flight path for each runway that planes can use in the event that an engine quits, said John Speckin, the FAA deputy regional administrator in charge of the proposal. The new height limits would only apply to structures in that path, he said.

“We’re trying to create a balance of the aviation needs and the development needs in the local community,” he said in an online briefing Wednesday.

But even with that limitation, thousands of existing and planned structures would be affected, said Peter Bazeli, who wrote the Weitzman analysis. Existing buildings along the path would not have to be altered, but a property owner who wanted to increase the height of a building or replace it with a taller building might be out of luck.

“Just one flight path could cover hundreds and hundreds of acres in densely developed areas,” Bazeli said. “You are going to be bumping up against some very valuable property rights.”

The FAA doesn’t have the authority to tell owners how high a building can be. But property owners near airports are supposed to apply to the FAA before construction for a determination on whether a proposed building or renovation presents a hazard to navigation. Erecting a building that the FAA says is a hazard is akin to building in a flood plain — insurance rates go up, mortgages are harder to get and property values decrease. Local zoning laws often don’t permit construction of buildings determined to be an aviation hazard.

The FAA’s proposal has created “a real estate and developer firestorm,” said Ken Quinn, a former FAA chief counsel who is representing several developers. “A single building can be worth $100 million and more. If you are talking about lopping off whole floors, you can ruin the economic proposition and you can destroy the viability of the building, so you are talking about easily a $1 billion in economic impact.”

Cellphone tower owners and operators are also concerned.

“A change in the maximum allowable height of infrastructure surrounding airports … could degrade wireless service coverage and capacity,” PCIA, a trade association for the wireless industry, said Wednesday in a letter to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee members.

The real estate and wireless industries want the FAA proposal to be put through a formal rulemaking process, which can take years to complete. When an agency proposes a new rule, it also has to show that the benefits outweigh the cost to society. That makes it easier for industries to challenge the rule. FAA officials have chosen instead to treat the proposal as a policy change, eliminating the need to meet rulemaking requirements.

A bill recently introduced by Democratic Rep. Jim Moran, whose Northern Virginia district includes densely populated areas around Reagan National Airport near downtown Washington, would require the FAA to conduct a formal rulemaking. In a letter earlier this year to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Moran and three other lawmakers expressed concern that the proposal would have a “detrimental effect on the development and marketability of airports as well as hinder job creation and shrink the tax base of local governments.”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

School bands compete in Pageantry on Parade

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Peace and patience: Quilters gear up for show

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1Comments are off for this post

 
Calling someone a ‘smoker’ is hilarious

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
Conservancy plans next Quail Ridge Reserve walk

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Police seek suspect in armed robbery

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3

4-H Presentation Day brings fun, education to Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
What you eat can affect your medications

By Marilyn Ranson | From Page: C4

 
CAASC 18th Annual Chinese New Year and Scholarship Celebration

By Steve Reczkowski | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Rollover in Suisun City

By Aaron Rosenblatt | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
State schedules ramp closure at freeway project site

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Vigil doesn’t pan out amid concerns

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A5

 
Appointments on tap for Board of Supervisors meet

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Tri-City NAACP honors community members at gala event

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
NY, SF town house prices through the roof

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: B7

 
Parker Road restaurant does brisk business

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B7

 
Fairfield police log: Feb. 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Suisun City police log: Feb. 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Airmen with local ties finish basic training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

Force draws many from South, middle class

By Tom Philpott | From Page: B10

 
.

US / World

Christie to Calif. Republicans: No rush to pick 2016 nominee

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
US missionary abducted in Nigeria is courageous, friends say

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

Dress that ‘greatly resembles’ stolen Nyong’o gown found

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Weekend storm drops snow, rain, hail in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Churches, synagogues, mosques bear tough New England winter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Mother charged in death of infant found in California swamp

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Hyundai recalls 263,000 cars due to power-steering problem

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Blind dog rescued after being lost for 2 weeks in the cold

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Details about proposed national monuments in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
National monument supporters in California get antsy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

US drone strike in Yemen kills 3 suspected al-Qaida fighters

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Greece will not seek another bailout, prime minister says

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Attacks kill 37 people in and north of Iraq’s capital

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Nemtsov a possible ‘sacrificial victim,’ investigators say

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoon: March 1, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sound off for March 1, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
New school funding plan remains on bumpy path

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

Even Gruber deserves a break sometimes

By Megan Mcardle | From Page: A8

 
I might just vote for a Democrat next time around

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

Aging Fairfield housing agency faltering

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Today in History: March 1, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: March 1, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

With numbers falling, Houston-area nuns’ future uncertain

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Horoscopes: March 1, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

Kidney Walk participation helped give me a positive outlook on life

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

 
.

Entertainment

Take a look – Dr. Seuss has a new book

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Publisher launches line of Warhol e-books

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Q&A: Opera star Deborah Voigt writes of turbulent life

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2Comments are off for this post

 
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Review: ‘The Girl on the Train’ has realistic plot

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2Comments are off for this post

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

Vikings girls looking for first section title

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Local Report: Vaca’s Aquino wins Masters wrestling title

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Phegley hopes his style will catch on in Oakland

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
A year after meeting Tiger, Indian golfer on the rise

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Jeff Gordon takes a final spin at track that meant so much

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Players’ union head: future spring games in Cuba possible

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Harrington takes 36-hole lead, then more rain in Florida

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Defending champ Federer beats Djokovic to retain Dubai title

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Safarova beats Azarenka to win the Qatar Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Environmental activists disrupt meeting by Olympic officials

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Hamilton hones Mercedes with fastest time at F1 testing

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Thunder’s Russell Westbrook has surgery on cheekbone

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Anthony Mason, rugged forward of 1990s Knicks, dies at 48

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Warriors center Festus Ezeli suspended for a game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Reichelt leads Austrian World Cup downhill sweep

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Harvick wins Xfinity race at Atlanta for 3rd year in a row

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Stolen No. 44 NASCAR race car found in suburban Atlanta

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Business

Fruits and vegetables get a star-studded marketing push

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
For many in US, cash saved at gas pump is staying in pockets

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Nevada casinos keep $953.7 million in winnings in January

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Historic snows causing headaches for real estate industry

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Boy, 13, builds Braille printer with Legos, starts company

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9Comments are off for this post

 
Recalls this week: hand trucks, ceiling fans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Review: Freedom! These smartwatches leave the phone behind

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Greek prime minister rules out third bailout

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

AP Exclusive: Fuel-hauling trains could derail at 10 a year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

John W. Van Wart

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Lester Singer

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Virgil Albert Hanson

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Leah E. Hoffman

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Thomas Browning

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Jacqueline Mendes

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics