Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

County Airports leases extended

When a fixed-base operator leases land from an airport owned and operated by the County of San Diego, the provisions of the lease usually include that the improvements become the property of the county at the end of the lease term.

The lease period is intended to allow the fixed-base operators to recover their investments. The coronavirus shutdown limited revenue during that period, so the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved extensions of most County Airports leases.

The supervisors’ 4-0 vote April 10, with Terra Lawson-Remer absent, authorized five-year extensions for all but two leases whose cumulative terms would have exceeded 50 years and one lease whose extension will require Federal Aviation Administration approval.

The leases consist of four at Fallbrook Community Airpark, 14 at Gillespie Field in El Cajon, 13 at McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, four at Borrego Valley Airport, four at Ramona Airport, and one at Jacumba Airport. The county also owns and operates Agua Caliente Springs Airport and Ocotillo Airport, which do not currently have leases.

The county also leases airport land for non-aviation uses which provide a buffer between the airport and residences, although those were not included in the extension.

The county's Airport Enterprise Fund is derived from lease rent from businesses on County Airports land and is used to cover County Airports expenses and to provide matches for Airport Improvement Program grants the Federal Aviation Administration provides which cover up to 90% of qualified airport improvement projects.

Fixed-base operators are allowed to have subleases contingent upon county approval. County Airports is responsible for runways, taxiways, air traffic control towers, communications, and related equipment. Facilities and equipment used by local law enforcement agencies, aerial firefighting, and other emergency service providers are also at some of the county’s airports.

Fixed-base operators provide hangar and tie-down rentals, aviation fuel sales, aircraft repair, maintenance, parts, pilot supplies, flight training, and flight services. Some of the airports have industrial-zoned land which allows for other airport-compatible uses such as manufacturing, storage, and other commercial use while non-aviation buffer land includes nurseries and sports and recreation facilities.

If an airport receives Federal Aviation Administration grant money, the FAA rather than the county has the discretion to determine whether specific land is for aviation or non-aviation purposes, although a transition from non-aviation to aviation land will not occur until the lease on that land ends.

Leaseholders interested in an extension offered by the April 10 action must request necessary amendments from County Airports staff in writing by Oct. 10 and execute the amendment by April 10, 2025. Current monthly rents will not be increased although the leases will still be subject to all other terms of the lease including annual increases based on the Consumer Price Index and renegotiation of rent amounts every five years. The County Airports director will have the authority to approve the lease amendments.

A lease term cannot extend beyond 50 years, so only a one-year extension will be offered for Fallbrook Air Service, Inc., and for Chuck Hall Aviation at Ramona Airport. The San Diego Air and Space Museum has a Gillespie Field site, and County Airports will only extend that lease if the FAA decides that a museum is an eligible use for aviation land.

The runway at Fallbrook Community Air Park was completed in October 1964. The county took over operation of Fallbrook Community Airpark in November 1997. (When the county took over operations of the airport, "Air Park" was changed to "Airpark".)

Fallbrook Community Airpark totals approximately 290 acres. Aviation uses comprise approximately 33 acres on the northwest portion of the property. The aviation usage includes aircraft storage, maintenance, parts, supplies, repairs, and flight training services as well as runway operations and a helipad for emergency helicopter operations.

The non-aviation uses provide a buffer between the airport and residences while also providing the county with revenue from leases. Ingold Sports Park and the Fallbrook Tennis Club are on airport land, and nurseries and other users also hold leases on the property.

Harry and Yvonne Aberle owned Fallbrook Community Air Park, Inc., which operated the airport until the county took over operations. In June 1988, the county agreed to a sublease between Fallbrook Community Air Park, Inc., and Fallbrook Air Park Hangar Services, Inc. After the county took over operations the county began working with Fallbrook Air Park Hangar Services, Inc., on a lease directly from the county.

In September 2000, the county supervisors approved an amended lease increasing the premises to 3.71 acres. In 2001, the county approved a sublease from Fallbrook Air Park Hangar Services to Yvonne Aberle and, in February 2003, the county changed the agreement to allow Fallbrook Air Service to take over the sublease.

Tom Aberle, who owned Fallbrook Air Service, was the son of Harry and Yvonne Aberle. In January 2017, the county supervisors approved a new lease through Jan. 31, 2037. Fallbrook Air Service provides flight instruction, hangar and tie-down rental, aircraft maintenance services, and sales of aircraft parts and pilot supplies. Because the original lease was executed in 1988, the 50-year limit would extend the lease only to 2038.

The original lease with Aircraft Hangar Management, LLC, was for 5.9 acres and was approved in February 2003. Aircraft Hangar Management provided a 12,000-gallon fuel tank and 24-hour self-service operation along with space for aircraft storage and general aviation business.

The fuel facility is located on 0.13 acres of land adjacent to the original leasehold, and Aircraft Hangar Management had been utilizing the area for parking and for the fuel facility under an annually renewable airport use permit. A new lease which began on March 1, 2008, added that 0.13-acre area to the leasehold and eliminated the need to renew the annual permit.

The lease expires on Feb. 28, 2038, and the county supervisors’ action would allow an extension until 2043.

L18 Airpark Corporation (the FAA’s three-character location identifier for Fallbrook Community Airpark is L18, which explains the corporation name) leases 4.11 acres and provides space for general aviation business and aircraft storage.

The original 30-year lease with L18 Airpark Corporation was approved by the supervisors in February 2003 and included a renegotiation of the rental rate every five years. In 2008, the lease was replaced with a new 30-year lease with a May 31, 2038, termination date. L18 Airpark Corporation may now extend that lease to 2043.

In June 2002, the Board of Supervisors approved a 30-year lease with Fallbrook Flyers, LLC, for 0.976 acres at Fallbrook Community Airpark. Fallbrook Flyers developed aircraft storage hangars and leased them to airport users.

In March 2015, Fallbrook Flyers, LLC, assigned its leasehold interest to Murray Investment Company, LLC and, in October 2015, the county supervisors approved a revised lease with an Oct. 31, 2045, end date. The lease is eligible to be extended until 2050.

The April 10 Board of Supervisors action also waived the processing fees for lease extension requests. If all leaseholders request extensions the fiscal impact to the Airport Enterprise Fund will be approximately $126,000.

The Fallbrook Airpark Advisory Committee voted 5-0 Feb. 5 to recommend the lease extension offers.

Author Bio

Joe Naiman, Writer

Joe Naiman has been writing for the Village News since 2001


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