Airport tenants and residents addressed Tehachapi City Council on airport related matters.

Airport hangar users can expect an official Tehachapi Hangar Use and Inspection Policy to soon be implemented at Tehachapi Municipal Airport.

This document helps define approved airport uses to help the airport comply with FAA rules on what is allowed inside hangars and on airport property.

The City Council voted 4-0 in favor of the policy, with one abstention from Councilman Kenneth R. Hetge due to the Fair Political Practices Commission saying he should not vote on the policy because he leases property at the airport.

“Anything inside the fence, which is aviation use according to our Airport Layout Plan, is what will be inspected,” said Ashley Whitmore, airport manager and administrative manager for the city. The inspection policy was necessary due to a recommendation from the FAA 2017 Tehachapi Municipal Airport Land Use Inspection Report.

The policy will ensure hangars are being used for aeronautical purposes and comply with fire, safety and building codes, Whitmore said. The hangars will be inspected by the airport manager, code enforcement officer, building inspector and fire department inspector.

Permitted uses include storing aircraft property, equipment and materials; maintenance, repair or refurbishment of aircraft; parking a vehicle subject to local airport rules; and some other uses.

Storing vehicles on airport property and using the property as a residential living area is not permitted.

Whitmore added that buildings with proper documentation on improvements requiring a permit in the past would not require tenants to meet current building codes, unless the work was done illegally.

“As long as the improvement was permitted at the time of construction, it would not be in violation,”  Whitmore said in an email.

The policy states that aircraft should be listed as personal property with the Kern County Assessor's Office. Improvements or alterations to the building must have the consent of the airport manager and follow local building regulations.

Inspections will start 60 days from the policy adoption date and inspection letters will be sent at least 15 days in advance of inspection. The latest review period for airport users to send in comments or questions was April 23 to May 7, 2018.

Any hangar owner or tenant may appeal a notice of violation or notice of cost recovery within 10 days and in writing to the city manager, and it will be addressed before a hearing officer.

Some airport tenants commented via email.

Joe Stripe, an airport hangar owner, was concerned with the airport policy language being vague and suggested that definitions needed to be clearer.

Tom Lawthers, an airport tenant, inquired about building inspections and if an older building would need to meet current codes as long as it met those in place at the time of the modification.

“How would you know if any additional structures were permitted?” Lawthers said.