WatchSonoma Watch

Planners approve $84 million airport expansion


County planners on Thursday backed a plan to expand Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, voting 4-1 for an $84 million project that includes longer runways, more commercial flights and a new passenger terminal.

The plan will go to county supervisors next month for final action.

“This project really is about safety,” said Commissioner Jason Liles.

Federal aviation authorities have ordered changes to the airport’s runways because they don’t meet current safety standards.

Timing of the expansion depends on attracting more airlines to the county-owned airport. The county is in talks with Alaska and Frontier Airlines about additional flights, but they’ve made no commitments, airport manager Jon Stout said Thursday.

Most of the improvements would be financed with federal aviation grants, which are linked to the level of airport activity.

The project calls for the airport’s main runway to be extended by 885 feet to 6,000 feet, which would meet current safety requirements and accommodate larger aircraft.

The plan permits up to 21 commercial flights a day by 2030. Currently, Alaska Airlines operates five flights a day from Santa Rosa to Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and Las Vegas.

At a hearing Thursday, critics said they’re worried about the noise impacts of more flights and larger aircraft, especially in Windsor, which is just north of the airport.

But supporters downplayed the impacts and said the airport expansion is needed to boost Sonoma County’s economy.

On Thursday, planning commissioners said they support long-term airport expansion, but pushed for some restrictions on noise.

Airlines should agree to a voluntary curfew on commercial flights between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., the commission said. The planners also asked for periodic noise monitoring as the airport adds flights.

Commissioner Greg Carr was the only vote against expansion. “More could be done to address the impacts,” he said.

The 20-year plan also provides for a new air traffic control tower, air cargo facility, fire station and dozens of other improvements. It would authorize the airport to purchase additional land for runway safety and buffer zones.

On Thursday, a dozen airport neighbors, environmentalists and business representatives voiced differing views on the project.

Airport expansion threatens natural wetlands, said Jane Nielson of the Sonoma County Water Coalition.

“Wetlands support life,” she said. “We’ve already lost 80 percent of them.”

But expansion is needed to attract business, said Gary Lentz, an executive at a Santa Rosa accounting firm.

“It makes us that much more attractive as a place to do business,” he said.

In a letter, the town of Windsor expressed concerns about increased airport traffic on Shiloh Road at Highway 101 and Skylane Boulevard.

The plan is expected to go before the Board of Supervisors on Jan. 10. It must also be approved by federal authorities before it can be implemented.

Work on some projects could start next year if the airport gets the go-ahead, Stout said.

24 Responses to “Planners approve $84 million airport expansion”

  1. Missy says:

    I read all the arguments on this page from the conservatives and liberals and the middle-of-the-road types and have concluded that while in some ways it would be convenient to have an airport close to us it might create too much growth and we’d turn into SJ/SC/OC/etc and that is something I don’t want. I love being in a small town. We can drive to SFO and park there when we need to go somewhere. Plus the pollution, I hope we all read that HK is extremely polluted (right here in this paper I read that) as well as our own central California is terribly polluted (again read this in the PD). Do we really need that kind of pollution here?

    As it is when they have the Bohemian Grove get-togethers there’s tons of aircraft constantly coming and going that you can see and hear, imagine if it were a full service airport?

    Just say no to the expansion.

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  2. paul says:

    there’s nothing wrong with developing an airport in the county to accept more air traffic with larger aircraft.
    the real problem is that the existing airport was never envisioned to accomodate this kind of expansion.the eir should have assessed other potential sites which would have less overall impacts to the community. the expansion at the current airport is bad. bad planning, bad location and bad government if this eir is approved.

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  3. Gibby says:

    Let’s just make it all San Fran Rosa and get it over with.

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  4. Steveguy says:

    I live in Windsor. If I lived right under the flight paths I may have a problem, but I live right off of it and actually enjoy seeing the planes.

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  5. Mr. Obvious says:

    @ Social Dis-ese — get real pal. We aren’t talking about a few “dozens of home owners directly under the flight line”, we are talking about tens-of-thousands of folks here!

    And there is a big difference between moving-in next to a quaint municipal airport and having someone plant a regional commercial air terminal in its place. So don’t accuse the people of Windsor getting what they deserve. They didn’t sign up for this . . . . you did.

    By the way, I fly, many times a year. I fly out of SFO, and I don’t take the bus, I drive . . . right past the Airport Bl. exit both ways. Obviously I have several alternative travel choices. I pick the one that is most economical and convenient. So don’t give me that “build it, they will come” pro-SMART argument — you, of all people!

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  6. Poor Windsor Residents says:

    Windsor is goona really be sorry once the airport completes the expansion. The town green folks will try and party while the large aircraft fly over very low in the air one after another after another.

    I live in Windsor and on any givin day I get the helecopters oh about a dozen times a day or night buzzing back and forth very low over my house and yard along with the private planes that have no mufflers! BLUUURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

    I can’t take any more NOW so I am thinking of renting my house out and moving somewhere way away from the current noise pulluted Windsor AND this is all before the propossed expansion.

    The residents in Windsor are going to really regret this expansion if they don’t do something now! Now is the time to voice your concerns or sell!

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  7. Steve Klausner says:

    “Most of the improvements would be financed with federal aviation grants.”
    This was part congress’s debate that almost shut down the nation a few months ago.

    If the Feds were not bankrolling this project we would be having a different discussion right now.

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  8. shirley durban says:

    So sad that folks who have trouble with math follow the prescribed paths toward further failure. And hence, our banks continue to fail, our FHA will fail, our airlines…but our airports?
    Hey folks, it’s OK, it’s only grants! If we build them, yes, then we just know they’ll come. Donchya feel it? Pass the airsickness bags around I think we’ve just hurled ourselves into a new mission to accomplish. No, the ones with the Jordan Winery and River Rock Casino Logos, please.

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  9. Social Dis-Ease says:

    Does anyone remember the argument against widening Hwy.101? That doing so would make development explode in the No. Bay?
    I remember thinking; the horses have long been out of the barn, and have been reproducing, let’s improve our quality of life, it’s too late to close the barn door.
    Although I sypathize with the dozens of home owners directly under the flight line, forgive me, but most (all?) have known about the airport for a long time.

    Seems to me this won’t have an impact like an international airport because of the toxic nature of jet fuel, and much less audible impact.

    The technology in terms of noise and clean combustion will only improve.

    THIS makes sense, THIS will reduce some traffic. THIS will make Santa Rosa more of a destination and ‘hub’ for the surrounding communities-there’s a lot of them.
    Why a salamander is brought to extinction over a structure 100 ft. away, or a wetlands (albeit biologically significant) ruined by a turbo prop 2000 ft. away is beyond my understanding.

    If we are to concern ourselves with airplanes, I beleive a FAR more legitimate concern is in the air.
    How about the jets often spraying tons of toxic soup on us?
    Nano particles of aluminum, barium, strontium, freeze dried biological material, morgellons and much more.
    THAT has detrimentally altered the ph of our environment. Conifers, sudden oak, introducing more metals into humans that migrate to the brain. Causing the dramatic increase in alzheimers and autism.
    Brought to you by the same band of satanic globalists that bring ALL that is dark.
    Could have played it safe and skipped that last paragraph.
    Think this is a good time to go with the program and play it safe?

    Anyway, I think the airport’s limited expansion is good, except for the amount of zeros in the price tag-what else is new?

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  10. I Hate To Be the One to Tell You says:

    The airport expansion will cost less than 6% of the little commuter train to nowhere and will have a much greater impact on business, travel and commerce in the North Bay.

    Expanding the airport makes sense, unlike the Unsmart train. If Sonoma County wants to reduce traffic congestion, they should build a light rail system in Santa Rosa where traffic is terrible and no little train going nowhere will help.

    SMART is a social engineering plan to build future slums next to their little rail line going nowhere.

    Expand something that works and will have a real impact on jobs and travel right here in this area.

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  11. Lets be Reasonable says:

    @Hammer – “What the hell do we need growth for?”
    The County is required by law to accommodate a certain percentage of state population growth. Growth is going to happen, and putting your head in the sand will not stop it from happening. Better to plan for it.

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  12. john bly says:

    Posters that do not want to upgrade our airport due to new safety regulations coming at us, might want to consider a few things.

    1. you do not get to have an airport if you do not upgrade the runaways and terminal. Period. So whether you find Sonoma County Airport convenient or not, surely it is more convenient than driving to SFO/Oakland/Sacramento.
    2. Funds for the airport project are mainly from air travel fees that were collected to upgrade facilities just like Sonoma County. If we do not upgrade our airport, they go somewhere else and whether you like it or not, they will get spent as safety upgrades for other communities. They cannot be used for fixing roads or other worthy projects.
    3. Growth? This project is not going to generate growth, although it may keep some existing businesses in business. You know, the ones that employ people that pay for things like police, fire, water, sewer?
    4. To correct the math of one poster-an increase in the runway of 885 feet to 6,000 feet is not 7x–it is 14.75% longer and it needs to be lengthened and the alignments changed to accomodate new safety regulations for commercial passenger and freight aircraft. Oh-and the Schulz family legacy is alive and well and will be nurtured by this project, not compromised.

    Well, then there is the economic impact-spending $84 million locally on this project will have an economic impact of over $500 million as a boost to our economy. Anybody that is opposed want to pony up that kind of economic stimulus? I say bravo to the Planning Commissioners, staff, and Jon Stout.

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  13. Mr. Obvious says:

    I would support the airport expansion too — if the planes flew over your house instead of mine.

    How about if I drop a lit cherry bomb on your doorstep 21 times a day. I know you won’t mind. That way you can participate in how much the airport has grown right along with me, and fully appreciate your hand in making it happen.

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  14. The Hammer says:

    What the hell do we need growth for? If I wanted to live in a crowded area I would move to Orange County where everywhere you look its cement. There you can bet a plane will fly over you residents disturbing your peace. You can smell the smog in the air. It’s a terrible place to live and I know because I lived there for a while. Why do people want that crap here? Bigger is not better.

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  15. The Great Unknown says:

    @Flying Fish…
    Do you realize that Businesses are already leaving Sonoma County? SMART and the extention will HOPEFULLY bring in more businesses so that the economy here won’t flop and we end up a hell hole. It’s people like you that cry when the economy tanks, but doesn’t want things that could possibly help the economy out. There are too many double standards up here in Sonoma County up here.
    I support SMART and the Extention. This would give more businesses the needed transportation. I’m sorry to say, Sonoma County will keep growing.
    The only thing I agree with you on is the illegal immigrants, but of course we have rogue immigrant attorneys like Rich Coshnear and Alicia Roman who would rather see the US destroyed and become a hell hole like Mexico. But that’s a different topic.

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  16. Flying Fish says:

    This is another payoff to business supporters and unions. It is primarily an airline for businesses as it is far too expensive and with restrictive schedules for regular air commuting. The “people” just don’t need it.Along with the SMART train and illegal immigration our great Sonoma County will change for the worse forever. The Horizon planes clearly make the loudest moist noise. We need less people in the county and the United States.When the economy fails and taxes go up the businesses will move out of California and local taxpayers will have to pay for the uselss airport and train.The cost for fuel will drive fares so high it would probably stop scheduled flights.

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  17. Martian says:

    Well… in politician speak, the new airport stuff we don’t need is the cost of 4 Santa Rosa pedestrian bridges. That’s practically free! Shweeeeet!

    84 million not including cost overruns for another crappy terminal and 300 yards of fancy pavement? The airpost is fine as-is.

    I don’t care if the feds pay for the entire thing, it’s not free money – its taxpayer money and a poor use of it.

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  18. Lets be Reasonable says:

    @Shirley – While many would like Sonoma County to go back to being a backward puddle, that is just not going to happen. We grew 7.6% between 2000 and 2010. We can either do a well thought-out plan for growth, or we can become another San Jose. We can either make it more appealing for businesses to come and grow here, or we can continue to spend hours on 101 commuting to the Bay Area.

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  19. Bruce Abramson says:

    I am disappointed so far in the lack of getting buy-in from area resident on the airport expansion. Business needs to work with the neighborhoods in addition to their jobs and economy mantra about the airport. Windsor and area residents are being downplayed or ignored about their concerns regarding noise levels, night flights, size of aircraft, and number of daily flights. This can be a win-win for everyone. Restrict airplanes to turbo-props, no 737′s and executive jets with high noise decibels. Restrict the hours from 9 pm to 7 am so people can sleep and enjoy some quality of life. Noise restrictions should be analyzed for each type of plane – not some statistical average of planes and 24 hours periods. The County can find creative ways to see that the public good is not overrun with the promotion of “anything goes” with airport expansion.

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  20. shirley durban says:

    Federal aviation grants, how nice. And only 7x longer to meet safety standards for a little used wannabe airport. Did I miss John Murtha investing in a County vineyard? This has that same bad smell of our wasted tax dollars as his Cambria County air-for-brains sweep.

    We really will have to change the name, as this waste will tar and asphalt over the remaining Schulz Family legacy, which has been rich in philanthropic pursuits, landing monies where there is truly need. Oh the names that could stick to this overbuilt tarmac proposal… anyone…anyone…anyone?

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  21. Lets be Reasonable says:

    @Hammer – this money is not available to fix roads – they are aviation grants. Jobs during construction, and a boost to our economy.

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  22. Social Dis-Ease says:


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  23. Lets be Reasonable says:

    About time!

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  24. The Hammer says:

    Why? This is another one of those projects that some one is using to try to justify their job. Use the money to fix the roads. If there’s any funds left over after fixing the roads then we can think about other projects. Although, I doubt that after they spend the monies on the road repairs that there will be anything left over. Fix the roads! Everywhere!

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