2015-09-14: Atherton pushes for action to limit Surf Air

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For the Almanac listing view:

To say that a letter sent last week by the Atherton City Council regarding the San Carlos Airport and Surf Air’s impact on local residents is “strongly worded” would be an understatement.

The letter was sent, coincidentally, a day after a Surf Air announcement that the company has more than doubled in size during the last nine months and plans even more expansion. Surf Air offers unlimited scheduled flights for a monthly fee.

Atherton’s letter, dated Sept. 11, was addressed to Tom Madalena, who is in charge of airport land use planning for the City/County Association of Governments. He has been updating the state-required Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan for the San Carlos Airport.

However, the letter says, the association is not doing its job of protecting “the public health, safety, and welfare.” For nearly two years, the letter says, the town and nearby communities “have petitioned, pleaded, and implored” the Federal Aviation Administration, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, San Carlos Airport management and Surf Air “to address a devastating disconnect between San Carlos Airport Operations and the health, safety and welfare of the impacted communities.”

By not addressing the concerns about the noise impacts of the airline’s flights, these agencies “have been derelict in their duty of protecting that health, safety, and welfare, instead placing the expansion desires of commercial aviation ahead of the protection of its communities,” the letter says. “This is unacceptable and must be remedied.”

The letter asks the airport and the Board of Supervisors to “take immediate and proactive steps to limit and mitigate the expansion impacts of the airport operations on the surrounding communities.” The letter also asks that the supervisors hold a public meeting “to hear and take action on this issue.”

“It is time that the County Board of Supervisors stand with its citizenry to address the issue,” the letter says.

The Sept. 10 Surf Air press release says the company now has 2,000 members and has more than doubled in size in only nine months, from 850 members, six planes and service to six areas at the beginning of the year. According to the press release, the airline will serve 10 areas by the end of the year, and hopes have as many as 30 planes by 2016.

When asked if the airport can limit the number of Surf Air flights, San Carlos Airport Manager Gretchen Kelly said the county “has been consulting with the FAA to determine what limits may apply.”