As a private pilot licensed in 1970 with over 3,000 hours; someone involved in Tehachapi since 1981; one who has regularly used the airport over many years and a property owner since 2002, I feel qualified to speak on the topic of a motel in Capital Hills and airport viability.
My sense is that the city of Tehachapi and its residents value the airport. They also value the long-awaited hospital and associated commercial development in Capital Hills. I believe both can survive and thrive as neighbors.
Yes, there are limitations to where structures can be built adjacent to an airport. And, yes, neighbors too close to airports have lobbied for airport restrictions and closures. But I don't see either of these as serious issues in this discussion.
With regard to structures in the vicinity of airports, there are state and federal rules that define this and if a developer abides by the rules, he should be allowed to develop his property. If some group doesn't like the rules, they should change them. But they shouldn't punish a developer for doing what's legal and appropriate. Let's face it, families of patients will benefit from a budget-priced motel adjacent to the hospital.
With regard to any danger to visitors or staff of the motel, it's probably no more likely than anywhere else in the vicinity of the airport. Yes, there's always a danger when near an airport and Tehachapi knows this only too well. But having personally departed many times westbound from the airport, with a small mountain directly in my path and higher ground to the north, a left turn toward Golden Hills is not only the rule, but also a natural survival tactic to any, but the boldest or most proficient departing pilots.
Although I'm fine with commercial development in Capital Hills, such as the motel in question, I would be against any residential development. Not for safety reasons, but once residences are built in or near an airport's departing flight path, it isn't long before complaints begin. That type of development could threaten the viability of the airport.
The new hospital, the airport and this motel are all for the best interests of Tehachapi, its visitors and its residents, so to paraphrase the late Rodney King, "can't we all just get along?"