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Mather airport expansion moves forward

By From page A1 | April 09, 2014

Now is the time to comment on Sacramento County’s Mather Airport 20-year-development plan — a proposal to turn the former Air Force base-turn-private airport into a premier cargo hub facility for the entire Pacific Rim region. The plan’s revised Draft Environmental Impact Report is available for public review.

The Mather Review Subcommittee, acting under the larger El Dorado Hills Area Planning Advisory Committee, hosted a town hall meeting last Wednesday night to educate residents who came from Rancho Cordova to Lotus and everywhere in between. Committee Chair Larry Brilliant claimed the airport’s expansion would be a “nuisance” for those living under the flight path all while lining Sacramento County’s pockets. Residents were urged to avoid “certain doom” by asking for a 120-day public comment extension and to write to both Sacramento and El Dorado County supervisors. The current public comment deadline is May 8.

“It’s going to take a political movement to stop it,” said District 4 Supervisor Ron Briggs, who attended with District 1 Supervisor Ron Mikulaco. “Sacramento County has a lot of money invested in this. The build out of Mather I think would mean close to 500 or 600 flights a day (currently there are 6,000 annual cargo flights). We’re searching for ways to legally insert ourselves in the process. All of the infighting we’ve done about whether we’re a green, rural El Dorado County will mean nothing if they put an airport over our heads. We need to attack it.”

“You may not have noticed a lot of low flying aircraft over your homes lately, but if Sacramento County gets its way, you will,” it states on keepthepeace.org a site, subtitled Communities for a Responsible Mather Airport, referred to throughout Wednesday’s presentation held in the El Dorado Hills Community Services District pavilion. “Dozens of aircraft will be cruising over your community, day and night, making as much noise as a vacuum cleaner right next to your bed.”

Affected areas would include Rancho Cordova, Silver Springs, Rosemont, Gold River, Fair Oaks, Folsom, El Dorado Hills (north and south of Highway 50), Cameron Park, Rescue and Shingle Springs.

Though the former Air Force base first established during World War I was here long before current homeowners, once the military gave it to Sacramento County in the 1990s there’s been talk of beefing up its air cargo operations. By 1997 several carriers, including UPS, moved from Sacramento International airport to Mather. Members of the Mather subcommittee described how noise has steadily increased since then.

“By 2003 Shingle Springs residents and El Dorado Hills residents living south of Highway 50 protested new noise,” one slide read.

Currently, Mather Airport loses at least $1 million annually, but making it a “premier jet cargo hub of the Pacific Rim” would make it profitable once more, Brilliant said.

What’s considered too loud can’t be agreed upon, added Mather committee member Bill Bryant. El Dorado and Sacramento County residents have rejected claims by the Sacramento County Airport System that noise only adversely affects those neighborhoods within a mile or two of the airport. Noise problems have popped up as far away as Georgetown with inbound flights beginning as early as 3 a.m. and coming in low and loud over the communities of Rescue, Shingle Springs, Cameron Park, El Dorado Hills and Folsom.

“Almost all air cargo in the United States fly at night,” Bryant said. “In this case they will fly over our homes and sleeping (attempting to sleep) families.”

The expansion plans include lengthening runways and upgrading Mather Airport’s navigation aid, or instrument landing system, to a Category IIIb, which means aircraft are allowed to begin approach if visibility is greater than 300 feet instead of the current half mile requirement.

In a recent e-mail Deputy Director of the Sacramento County Airport System Carl Mosher confirmed Federal Express would also move its operation to Mather from Sacramento International Airport subject to the installation of Category III ILS.

The Mather Subcommittee wants more time to review the DEIR and is asking residents to write both El Dorado and Sacramento County supervisors requesting:

  • A return of cargo operations back to its origin, Sacramento International Airport, explaining, “Sacramento International Airport has the infrastructure to accommodate air cargo operations without an impact to neighboring communities.”
  • Stop the installation of the Mather Airport Category IIIb Instrument Landing System.

“The expansion of Mather airport is not a district problem, it is an El Dorado County problem,” according to an e-mail sent to constituents from Mikulaco’s  assistant Cindy Munt. “Should the expansion go through it will negatively impact the quality of life and beauty of the county with major environmental and noise pollution problems, none of which Sacramento County will be mitigating according to the DEIR.  The negative financial impact to El Dorado County will be huge, while Sacramento County will be enjoying all the financial benefits. If residents of El Dorado County don’t respond to Sacramento County before the May 8 deadline, we lose our say.”

Comments regarding the Draft EIR should be submitted to the Sacramento County Environmental Coordinator and e-mailed to [email protected] or mailed to 827 7th St., Room 220, Sacramento 95814. Project Title: Mather Airport Master Plan, Control No. 2002-0325.

The El Dorado Hills Area Planning Advisory Committee has been an advisory committee to the county since 1981, when it helped create the El Dorado Hills/Salmon Falls Area Plan. The group claims its recommendations and written submittal of support, conditional support or non-support, have been one of the community’s strongest voices in local land use planning. Issues such as Mather Airport’s expansion are discussed at EDH APAC meetings, which are open to the public the second Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the EDHCSD pavilion.

Julie Samrick

Discussion | 6 comments

  • EllenApril 08, 2014 - 6:57 am

    You did a great job on this, Julie. Excellent. I hear so little talk of this, but so many people are effected! I'm going to reiterate for those who are unfamiliar: that an option to avoiding Mather expansion is to return cargo flights to their original center of operations (Sac International) which already has the infrastructure. The subcommittee could use additional time - write letters, folks!

  • John KerhlikarApril 10, 2014 - 9:54 am

    The best solution is to get supervisor Serna to vote NO on the expansion. We only need one more NO to stop this. Phil Serna is the only possible vote that may be on the fence. Nottoli, and Yee will never vote NO, and Peters has to recuse herself because of a conflict of interest. MacGlashan has already voted NO. We only need one more NO vote.

  • UpsetApril 09, 2014 - 1:26 pm

    If this goes forward, I will sell my home in EDH. As it is now we are disrupted daily with numerous low flying aircraft. I obtained a flight path that measured the flights directly over my home was about 1200 feet above our house . The noise disturbs us at night as well. If more flights start occuring, there is no way the quality of life at our address would be maintained. I hope this is stopped.

  • Dean KoffordApril 11, 2014 - 11:10 am

    The reason I live here is the quality of life and the environment. We have the choices of either proactively protecting those qualities from gradual but steady encroachment by those motivated by profit at our expense to make it just one more overdeveloped unappealing place or just sit back and let it happen. The latter would be a mindless choice. I love living here and adamantly oppose this project. Sac International Airport is a logical alternative.

  • Lizet FotenosApril 25, 2014 - 4:00 pm

    This is terrible. First we are over building, with no consideration to our water needs, traffic, pollution. Now they want to have us tolerate 500 planes a day! The noise level would be horrible and deprive us of sleep. Why don't we just call this place San Bruno, where planes fly constantly! The value of our property will go down! This has to be stopped!!

  • Susan TrippApril 28, 2014 - 1:41 pm

    Are you kidding...."the quality of life and the environment"???? Yawl are about 50 years to late! Get used to it! Now you know how we "old timers" feel about you!



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