Local News

Friday, Nov 01 2013 05:00 PM

Council considers dissolving Airport Commission

Commission Chair Hansen advises against its end

Upon review of the municipal code governing the role of the Airport Commission, an ad hoc committee has made the recommendation that the City Council repeal that portion of the code and dissolve the commission.

The issue was slated for the council's review at its Monday, Nov. 4, meeting; the council's decision was therefore unavailable at time of publication, but an update to the following story can be found online at TehachapiNews.com or in next week's edition.

Composed of Councilmembers Kim Nixon and Susan Wiggins, City Manager Greg Garrett, Airport Manager Tom Glasgow, and Airport Commission Chair Eric Hansen, the committee was formed at the Oct. 7 council meeting after two candidates to the Airport Commission vacancy presented their applications to the council.

Instead of making a motion to approve either of the candidates, Nixon moved to create an committee to review the code.

"I think with everything that we do it's important we revisit the duties and responsibilities of the Airport Commission from time to time," Nixon said. "The ordinance has not been updated since 1991 and I think that it would be good at this time to possibly establish a committee from the council to work with staff to review the municipal code and see if the wording still applies to what we want as a city for the Airport Commission, and then to come back and revisit the appointment at that time."

Wiggins seconded the motion, while Councilwoman Mary Lou Zamudio voted in favor and Councilman Ed Grimes was absent. Mayor Phil Smith initially voiced opposition to putting off the appointment, but after hearing the votes from his counterparts, he added his support.

According to Garrett's report attached to the Nov. 4 agenda, the ad hoc committee met Tuesday, Oct. 22, but Hansen was unable to attend.

Glasgow explained in a phone interview that three different meeting dates were proposed, all being during regular city business hours, but Hansen requested the meeting be moved to a Friday or on the weekend.

The airport manager said the four other on the committee saw no reason to make that special allowance, and held the meeting without Hansen. He was offered the chance to submit his opinion in a letter, which he did, and city staff attached it to the agenda.

Dated Oct. 8, Hansen's letter recommends the function of the commission be redefined, "acknowledging that the City Management now and for many years effectively manages the Airport in concert with the City Council."

The letter continues, stating: "Over decades of being gradually replaced by City Management in the administration of the powers and duties long ago ascribed by the Municipal Code, the current Airport Commission has evolved into a public forum for the public and airport users...[W]hile most [participants] are very informative and beneficial...the whiners and complainers command the most notice and gives the Airport Commission an undeserved reputation among some observers."

Chapter 11.04 of the code explains the responsibilities of the Airport Commission are to "recommend to the city council policies for the proper operation of the Tehachapi Municipal Airport," as stated in Garrett's report.

"After careful consideration of the intended function, as well as the actual function of the Commission, the committee agreed that there was no longer a need for the Commission in its current state."

The ad hoc committee did not publicize its meeting on Oct. 22, because such a group is not subject to the Brown Act. It is this same type of committee that is proposed to essentially replace the Airport Commission, as explained in the city manager's report.

"This advisory committee would be set by resolution and would act as an ad hoc committee to address specific items of interest or concern...Should the Council, City Manager or Airport Manager feel that additional community or airport user input would be critical to the recommendation provided [on the proper operation of the airport], the advisory committee would be called upon to meet and discuss the issue."

Currently, spots on the Airport Commission are not limited to area residents. Garrett stated at the Oct. 7 council meeting that two of the four current commissioners live in Golden Hills, one lives in Rosamond and the other in Tehachapi.

Under the proposed resolution, the ad hoc advisory committee would consist only of the city manager, airport manager, one councilmember and two public members who are residents within the City of Tehachapi.

To view the agenda for the council's Nov. 4 meeting and Hansen's letter, visit LiveUpTehachapi.com and click on the "City Council" link under the "Government" tab.

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