The future of Travis Air Force Base is on the minds of many, and rightly so. The base provides an estimated $1.6 billion annual boost to the region’s economy. It’s by far the largest single employer, and helps to keep any number of contractors and vendors in the financial black.
Local businesses benefit greatly from the direct and indirect spending linked to the base.
So when there’s talk at high levels about ending one of the missions at Travis – in this case the KC-10 to cut Air Force budgets to preserve another necessary program, the developing KC-46 program – we should have a healthy dose of concern.
Believe it or not, we have some input into these types of decisions.
We can lobby Air Force leaders and Congress. That’s the work of the Travis Community Consortium. More importantly, we can ensure that decisions made off the base do not make it more difficult for the Air Force mission to thrive at Travis.
Solano County is doing that by preparing an updated study for land use near the base. The review is timely since the base’s new multimillion-dollar assault landing zone is operational.
Air Force officials want the county to establish a 200-foot height limit for the area north of Highway 12 and the area east of the base. The height limit is important because electricity-generating wind turbines in the county, south of Highway 12 in the Montezuma Hills, are 400 feet tall from the base to the extended vertical tip of the blades.
Supervisor Skip Thompson doesn’t want to wait for the study to be completed. He suggests acting now, with a temporary law to establish the requested height restrictions near the base. That should be done immediately.
Meanwhile the Fairfield Planning Commission this week approved a new wind turbine for the Anheuser-Busch brewery – a twin of sorts to the lone wind turbine that’s there now. Staff reports indicate there’s no conflict with Travis flight operations, an important component of the commission’s deision.
Bottom line: Travis is of vital importance to the community. The community needs to recognize this importance, and act accordingly.