Good Evening Mayor and Members of the Council.
My name is Eric Paul
I’m president of the Redlands Hangar Owners Association. We built and own 37 hangars on airport land we lease from the City. I’ve kept an airplane at Redlands Airport for 54 years.
I think a little airport history is in order.
The City bought Redlands Airport from private owners in stages from 1962 to 1966. The City wanted no part in developing the airport and solicited private investors to lease land and construct hangars. In 1968 Lou Stolp answered the call and leased the majority of the available land and built the lobby and 28 hangars. By 1974 he had built 59 hangars. Lou’s lease has been re-sold to new investors three times since and each has added more hangars which now number over 200. The City has never built a single building on our airport. Every building on Redlands airport was built by private investors.
Without private investors, Redlands Airport would be a vacant lot with a runway.
From the day the City purchased the airport until 2003 the airport was managed by Public Works. They were a friendly bunch, eager to help. If you missed a payment or a deadline you received a courtesy call from City hall.
In 2003 the airport was transferred to Municipal Utilities and everything changed. No more courtesy calls. In 2005 the City rescinded the land lease held by Aerodynamics Inc. on Parcel 5 over a payment dispute forcing them to sell their hangars to the City for 60 cents on the dollar.
Now Coyote Aviation is facing a new battle. Everyone knows Coyote had every intention of exercising their lease option. There was confusion over when the notification should take place. The notification deadline passed with no courtesy call from City hall.
The City feels the airport land lease rates are below market value. The City sets the rates and ties them to CPI to keep up with inflation. If they’re too low it isn’t the lease holders fault.
Since 2006 all the City departments have been given new names. Give the airport back to Public Works or a department with the same kindness and restore the once friendly and helpful atmosphere. A simple courtesy call to Coyote would have solved this entire fiasco.
Coyote assumed all the financial risk and built a first class hangar complex with a perfect payment history. Rescinding their lease for an oversight was mean spirited and a step in the wrong direction. You’ve killed future development at our airport. Who would chance developing more hangars or bringing a business to Redlands Airport knowing you could lose everything over a technicality.
It’s time for the City to take the moral high ground. Send Coyote to bed with no supper but restore their lease and give them their lease extension.
I write this on March 29, “National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day.” I find significant irony that the City of Redlands’ Instagram page is promoting that fact. Here’s why:
Along with George and Eva Saliba, my wife Carol and I own Coyote Aviation. For twenty years, we’ve been the managers of a single-building hangar facility we constructed at Redlands Municipal Airport. For that management, we charge $4-$6 per hangar per month.
Carol and I are lifelong Redlands residents, both with careers in education. I taught 5th and 6th grade here for thirty-five years. As a teacher, my mantra to my students was “Do your homework.” It did not pertain to assignments. It meant, “Understand a problem thoroughly before you attempt to solve it. Do your research before making important decisions.” Coyote Aviation’s supporters, your constituents, believe your homework may not have been done, or perhaps it was done by someone else.
On March 18, 2021 Coyote Aviation received notification of the termination of our lease. This was accomplished without the City’s ever reaching out to us. One of the reasons cited for lease termination was that Coyote did not renegotiate a lease while in a month-to-month tenancy. The fact is that I did not receive any City notification regarding our lease status until August 31, 2020. It came in a phone call from Airport Supervisor Bruce Shaffer. Although section 25 of our land lease stipulates that notices (such as a change from long-term to month-to-month) be “served by deposit in the United States mail,” Coyote has never received such written confirmation of the “late” designation and change to month-to-month tenancy.
Tired of waiting for official confirmation after Mr. Shaffer’s phone call, I contacted City attorney Dan McHugh on September 21, asking simply the City accept our renewal request. It was after my e-mail that I finally received e-mail confirmation from him about our change in status. This was 31 weeks after February 13, the date the City contends our renewal request was due. Our simple request to continue our relationship, our first step in negotiations, was not seen by City Council until the October 20 meeting. To that request, we never received an answer. No dialogue between parties ever took place because of the City’s inaction. Apparently, the City’s counter-offer was the March 18, 2021 lease termination. So much for “negotiations.”
We disagree with the “late” designation, but that particular matter will be addressed through legal channels. This message is about the City of Redlands’ refusal to respond to our request of September 21 in a timely manner, nor to respond to any of our efforts to get answers. I must charitably assume that as council members, you may have not been aware of the facts or of our own efforts to achieve a resolution before your decision in March to terminate our lease.
You might not know, for instance, that between September 21 and October 23, I tried six times to begin negotiations, get an answer, or start a dialogue. On October 23, Chris Boatman told me to wait, that the City Council would not take up the matter until after the new year. Between January 5, 2021 and March 10, 2021, I made ten more attempts to get a response. In over a year, from Feb 13 (the date the City says our renewal request was due) until March 18, 2021, Coyote received no initial notification of late designation, no City Council response or requests, no counter offers, nor any invitations to have a dialogue as I requested many times. We were trying, but efforts apparently fell on deaf ears. (I have e-mail evidence to support all claims here.)
Coyote Aviation is a ‘good deal’ for Redlands. In 2000, when we signed our agreement with the City of Redlands, City Council members were thrilled to have a 1-acre parcel of vacant land finally produce revenue. Since then, the City has collected from tiny Coyote nearly $250,000 in construction fees and land lease payments, not including revenue from property taxes and municipal utilities. The current profit to the City is the highest per square foot of the three fixed base operators (FBO’s) by a wide margin. Coyote’s Consumer Price Index adjustment occurs every three years while the other FBO’s are adjusted every five years. Coyote has been an excellent tenant, never a violation, never behind on rent.
Your constituents and I might reasonably assume that you were unaware of these facts, that someone else did your homework for you. If you knew all this information, however, and you still decided to terminate Coyote’s lease for other reasons, an explanation to the public would be illuminating. There is, however, a big difference between a reason and an excuse. To anyone aware of the facts, the use of “late written renewal request” simply looks like an excuse to take the property of others who’ve worked to create and sustain it, especially when the City knew we were going to renew our lease as far back as January of 2020 (verified in e-mail exchanges.)
As a teacher, if ever I discovered a student had relied on someone else’s answers to complete homework, I’d say patiently, “Do it again, and this time do it yourself. You’ll learn far more that way.” Then I’d lower the grade on the submission as a consequence. I suspect someone else may have been doing your homework, representing Coyote’sinterests, but not to the benefit of Coyote. I imagine you are experiencing some consequences right now.
I respectfully ask the City Council members to reexamine Coyote Aviation’s position, and well as the council’s reasons, motives, and excuses for terminating Coyote Aviation’s lease. In doing so, then you can actually say “I did my homework.”
We know of some REI tenants that took advantage of the Small Business Administrations Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for their businesses. The PPP now allows certain eligible borrowers that previously received a PPP loan to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan with the same general terms as their First Draw PPP Loan. There have been some recent changes to give priority for these loan applications for businesses with less than 20 employees. You can read about the program and changes on the small business administrations website at this link: Second Draw PPP Loans (sba.gov)
Dear Members and Friends of CalPilots
We recently received notice from the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) that the National Park Service (NPS) is considering closing the Stovepipe Wells airport in the Death Valley National Park.
According to the RAF, if the Park Service does not receive at least 400 comments from the pilot community regarding Stovepipe Wells, they will ignore the pilot’s input. WE NEED YOU TO COMMENT BEFORE DECEMBER 23.
I strongly encourage anyone who would like to help preserve our access to this airport to fill out this form:
Comment on proposed closure of Stovepipe Wells airport
It doesn’t take long, maybe ten minutes. This short amount of time could help preserve a valuable national resource. The complete message from the RAF is below. It contains some information that my be useful as you complete the comment form.
Carol Ford, President
Managers of Death Valley National Park in California are seeking public input regarding future use of the park’s Stovepipe Wells Village. One of the park’s proposals is to change the Stovepipe Wells airstrip into a dedicated night sky viewing area due to the prohibitive maintenance expense of repaving the runway. This is due to the park’s perceived lack of visitation to the strip, combined with a growing interest in attendees in night-sky astronomy. With this change, the airstrip is in danger of closing entirely to light aircraft visitation.
The Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) believes that pilot activity and stargazing can successfully co-exist with minor changes to existing infrastructure, and we are urging members to submit comments to the park in support of both pastimes.
Death Valley National Park is more specifically proposing the following change (the following text was captured from the park’s official Facebook page):
• Night Sky Viewing to Replace Airstrip: night sky viewing events in the park regularly attract over 250 people, and very few people use the airstrip at Stovepipe Wells. The park proposes changing the airstrip into a place where astronomical societies can set up and camp with their large telescopes, while providing an opportunity to experience the park’s spectacular dark skies. The Furnace Creek Airport, 18 miles away, would still be available for small planes.
If the Park Service does not receive at least 400 comments from the pilot community regarding Stovepipe Wells, they will ignore the pilot’s input. WE NEED YOU TO COMMENT BEFORE DECEMBER 23.
Additional details and comment submission form can be found at the following link:
The RAF suggests the following talking points for members who wish to comment:
· Pilots support stargazing. This is a very successful combination of compatible pastimes. This has been proven at Havana, Illinois, where fly-in stargazing events draw many campers both by air and car. The Blue Canyon airport at Nyack, in Tahoe National Forest is another perfect example.
* Current facilities at Stovepipe Wells are at about 1/2 mile hike away. The airstrip will see a significant increase in visitation should facilities such as a dedicated camping area, as well as toilets be provided to visitors to the airport.
· At 3,260 x 65 ft and a significant existing visitors area, there is ample room for both activities at Stovepipe.
· Providing for under-wing camping at the airstrip helps disperse usage, and puts no additional strain on the NPS campground.
· Its daylight use by small planes minimizes impact to campers and star gazers.
· This airport has historical value, having been established in 1948.
· Stovepipe Airstrip provides another feasible way to access this special land. For many, driving to Stovepipe Wells represents a huge investment of time, and access by small plane opens up that opportunity.
Thank you in advance for your support of this RAF Call to Action! The RAF will be following up with final comments on our website in the near future.
SB 1120 and SB 902 are being driven by developers, and if passed into law could have a very negative impact on general aviation airports in California. These bills essentially strip local government of land-use planning and approvals in the name of “affordable” housing in the state.
We heard that despite the last-minute oppositions by the aviation community, the bills were not stopped during committee review. Fortunately, both bills were not passed by the California assembly by the 8-31-20 legislative deadline. That date is the last day for each house in the California legislature to pass bills this year. So, these bills are dead for now. Unfortunately, there is a high probability they will be resurrected in next year’s CA legislative session which begins January 4, 2021.
Thank you to all that took the time to contact legislators to oppose these bills. At a minimum calling attention to the deficiencies in the bills could lead to amendments that maintain existing land use protection around airports. We will share any additional information we learn about these bills.