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Local News September 27th, 2007

More Questions On Oceanside Airport Proposal

An $84,000 monthly loss is not a terribly attractive business proposition. That’s what an airport consultant and manager said last week about the potential business climate for the Oceanside airport.

In spite of that gloomy prediction one potential developer, Leland Ayers, says he’s still in the game and would be willing to work with Oceanside to develop the airport.

Oceanside has been looking for a private operator to manage the 47-year old airport and the due date is drawing near. Following a question and answer period today (Thursday) from potential bidders, who would receive a 20 to 30 year contract if successful, the potential bidders have until sometime next month to submit their bids.

What makes it less than attractive is that the RFP (Request for Proposals) specifies that the successful operator would be required to pay a $1.2 million debt, build at least 16 more hangars, and construct an administration building with a restaurant. The operator also must pay the city 10 percent of gross profits.

And, oh, by the way, the operator will not be allowed to operate a flight school or provide aircraft rentals, the two most lucrative enterprises at most airports. Rents on the 40 tie-downs and 50 hangars the city wants at the airport – there are 34 hangars and 46 tie-downs now – simply won't pay the interest on construction loans and for day-to-day operations, including salaries for on-site staff and maintenance, Ayers said.

Under the city's requirements, an operator would sink almost $13 million into improving the airport, Ayers says. His Airport Hangar Management limited-partnership manages 40 hangars and fuel sales at Fallbrook Community Airpark and 34 hangars at French Valley Airport, owned by Riverside County.

A number of potential airport operators, not just Ayers, are scratching their heads, wondering how the city of Oceanside expects to attract airport operators if all they’re going to do is lose money.

The county Board of Supervisors has already indicated it is not likely to respond to the city’s request for proposals, based largely on a county reports its analysts conducted that said the airport is loaded with problems.

Ayers said Friday that his decision to submit a bid depends on whether city officials can explain how an operator could make money given the city's demands.

“We are not interested in bailing Oceanside out of their mess,” he said.

Ayers estimates that the 3,000-foot runway at Oceanside needs $2.5 million in improvements.

The county's report, which was issued in August, also criticized the state of the runway. Peter Drinkwater, director of county airports, said Friday that Oceanside hasn't taken care of its airport for years. Drinkwater and his staff wrote the report given to the supervisors. It's expected to be a major part of the discussion at today’s meeting.

Surprise! Surprise! Luxury Condo Owners Upset with Party Animals from Cal State

You just knew it was going to happen. You take a growing university population at a college campus located in the midst of an upscale neighborhood, among which are luxury condominiums and suddenly there’s a big flap about students who party and make a lot of noise, acting nuts, and generally making the quiet, peaceful enjoyment of one’s home almost impossible.

That’s the scenario that has involved residents of Rancho Coronado, just south of Cal State San Marcos and CSUSM students. They say they are tired of the noise, trash and alcohol-induced behavior by students living there.

Mayor Jim Desmond said 12 of the 16 index cards he received from the audience at a recent education forum had to do with concerns about so-called “mini-dorms,” code enforcement and alcohol use in neighborhoods.

Desmond said the city likes being a college town but “we do not want to sacrifice the neighborhoods in San Marcos.” City officials have promised to address the complaints.

The university, which opened in 1990, has an enrollment of 9,200 this fall, and expects to have 11,000 students in 2010.

Rancho Coronado consists of five gated communities with a total of about 850 condos. Outside the meeting, several residents who belong to the homeowners association said they are disgusted with the behavior they have seen.

Students have been running around drunk, wearing bras (presumably women) and no shirts, and leaving bodily waste and vomit in the community pool and on playgrounds, according to several members of the audience.

Other residents have complained they have seen students having sex in the playgrounds. “It's beyond 'Animal House,' ” one observer complained.

Some residents complained the partying has intensified over the past four months to the point where it is happening every night. Residents say when they try talking to them they get disrespectful responses, including, “you live by a college, what do you expect?”

The condos in the area have been selling in the $500,000 range until recently.

Some students argue that people who want peace and quiet should not be living within walking distance of a university. “It's a big age-clash conflict between college students and those with families and are working,” one student said.

Part of the problem is that owners aren't supposed to rent their units, but some do anyway. Some residents moved into the area thinking that college kids couldn’t afford to live in such an affluent neighborhood. Converting a condo into, essentially, a mini-dorm, with four, five or six roommates sharing the rent and utilties, makes it not only economically feasible but rather attractive housing costs to students. And, students living so close together have learned to not only study together but to party together. The city of San Diego has recently been dealing with issues of mini-dorms near SDSU.

San Marcos City Manager Paul Malone said he recently became aware that several neighborhoods south of the university are experiencing problems. He said the city will collaborate with campus police, sheriff's deputies and code enforcement to determine the issues and figure out how to address complaints.

In an interview, Malone said a meeting with the Rancho Coronado homeowners association will be set up to go over what is expected of people living in condo complexes, and who and when to call with complaints.

The city is also considering an ordinance that would restrict the conversion of single-family residences into mini-dorms.

This may be easier said than done as the Rancho Coronado condos are private, so most of the legal responsibility falls on its association, and one wonders how the city or any other entity would be able to legally enforce such an ordinance.

Cal State San Marcos officials say it’s hard for them to discipline students for their behavior off campus. The university acknowledges it has gotten complaints from people who assume the students are from the university, she said, but without names, it can't follow up. University police are working with sheriff's deputies on the problem.

Payday Lenders in Oceanside Slapped on the Wrists

In response to a request by Major General Michael R. Lehnert, the commanding general for Marine Corps installations west of the Mississippi, the Oceanside City Council approved restrictions on new payday-loan businesses in an effort to help protect young Marines from being saddled with exorbitant interest rates.

The move reflects a national effort to regulate the businesses that often set up near military bases, such as Camp Pendleton, and prey upon young troops who need money between paychecks. The lenders typically lend money – often ranging from $100 to $500 – for a short amount of time.

The regulations the council unanimously approved place new lending companies in the same category as adult businesses and massage parlors, requiring them to obtain conditional-use permits before opening.

They also will have to be located away from churches, parks and schools.

Despite the unanimous vote, two council members expressed concerns with the changes to the city's zoning laws. Councilmen Jerome Kern and Jack Feller said the changes likely give an advantage to existing lenders, who will not be affected.

Kern also said young Marines haven't received enough instruction on borrowing from the payday-loan businesses. “We're kind of closing the barn door after the horse is out,” he said.

At least 21 payday lenders operate in Oceanside, according to a city staff report. Countywide, the city ranks second only to San Diego in the number of such establishments. San Diego has no laws regulating the businesses.

Congress approved a law, which takes effect Oct. 1, limiting the interest rates that can be charged to service members to 36 percent annually. The rates at payday lenders often go as high as 400 percent annually, but the loans are typically short term. After hearing from Maj. Gen. Lehnert in January, the council asked city staff members to look into ways to regulate the businesses. In July, the city's Planning Commission unanimously recommended the changes to zoning laws.

Escondido Police Cite and Impound 24 Drivers and Vehicles

Two Escondido Police checkpoints at the 3400 block of E. Valley Pkwy and on Washington Avenue near Kaille Lane resulted in a combined 1010 vehicle stops with a combined 24 citations issued for no driver’s license and 24 vehicles impounded. Additionally, one person was arrested on an outstanding warrant, another for probation violation, a third for possession of burglary tools. There will be more periodic checkpoints, police promised.





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