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No Additional Planes Over Arrowhead

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Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2019 9:00 am

On Aug. 1, the Mountain News published a legal notice from San Bernardino International Airport (SBD). The notice was intended to inform the community about a project called Eastgate. According to documentation from the San Bernardino International Aiport Authority (SBIAA), Eastgate involves building a new hub for freight and to allow for an increase in cargo flights, some of which would fly over the mountains.

“The SBIAA proposes to develop the Eastgate Air Cargo Facility to accommodate the demand for air cargo logistics operations,” the Environmental Impact report says. “This development includes construction of taxilanes and an aircraft parking apron to accommodate up to 14 aircraft, a 658,500-square-foot warehouse, two 25,000-square-foot maintenance buildings, and automobile parking with approximately 2,000 parking stalls.”

A public hearing on the project was set for Thursday, Aug. 8, at the airport.

Based on initial reports from SBIAA and correspondence with the FAA, members of Friends of Lake Arrowhead Mountain Communities (FLAMC) thought that planes flying over the mountain would add to the existing flights above Lake Arrowhead. However, this is not the case.

Anthony St. John, the chief financial officer for FLAMC, said they contacted their attorney and “filed a letter of concern and a request for more specific information.” Before the public hearing, FLAMC tried to gather more information about how the Eastgate project would affect the mountain communities as a whole.

“[FLAMC] sees ourselves as an entire mountain community. We see this whole range of mountains as worth protecting,” said Matthew Kallis, president of FLAMC.

Kallis, St. John, David Caine, the corporate secretary of FLAMC, and several others from the mountains, went to SBD to attend the hearing on Aug. 8.

Before the meeting began, officials from SBIAA took written and verbal comments from those who would not speak during the hearing. Kallis and St. John both left written and verbal comments giving the position on the mountain communities.

While discussing their public comments, Kallis and St. John said they voiced their opposition to any additional planes flying over Lake Arrowhead. They also said they do not want the mountain communities to be forgotten when these developments are considered. They said, while the mountain communities are 20 or more miles from airports, the elevation puts the residents in close proximity to planes.

Kallis also said that, while he fully supports economical growth, he wants it done in a way where other communities, such as those in the mountains, are taken into consideration.

After leaving their public comments, Kallis, St. John and Caine met and spoke with several officials who were answering questions prior to the meeting.

One such official was Steve Alverson, a project manager at SBIAA. Kallis spoke with him about FLAMC’s concerns regarding noise and air pollution in the mountains due to the excess planes flying directly over inhabited areas.

“There are no proposed flight path changes,” Alverson said. “This meeting is about changes to the airport.”

Alverson went on to say that additional flights coming into SBD due to Eastgate would use the ZIGGY flight path, which goes over the unpopulated area of Heaps Peak.

Mark Gibbs, the director of aviation at SBIAA, reflected similar comments when Kallis, St. John and Caine spoke with him for roughly 10 to 20 minutes.

“This project will have no new procedures,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs also said they would continue using the ZIGGY flight path.

The members of FLAMC asked Gibbs about the long-term growth of the Eastgate project and if there is a possibility of SBD using flight paths other than ZIGGY. Gibbs said there are no such plans at this time, but that they “didn’t project decades out.”

FLAMC explained to Gibbs that Ontario International Airport switched from other flight paths, including ZIGGY, and now fly the EAGLE-Z flight path, which goes directly over Lake Arrowhead.

“EAGLE-Z is ridiculous,” Gibbs said to FLAMC. “You have to get rid of EAGLE-Z.”

The members of FLAMC and the Mountain News opted not to stay for the meeting as Alverson and Gibbs both stated the airport will continue using the ZIGGY flight path and the meeting was only concerning the changes to the infrastructure of the airport itself.

“Our concerns are well-known and documented,” Kallis said as they left the airport.

“It’s very clear, from what I learned here, they only plan to use ZIGGY,” St. John said. “I’m not too worried about this facility unless Ontario moves some of their [flights] here.”

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