Falcon Field Citizens' Voter Initiative

In a manner similar to how the original Falcon Field 'Task Force' was implemented, the the City of Mesa employed decipt to disrupt the execution of the Citizen's Voter Initiative. They 'agreed' to form the committee outlined by the Initiative, but changed it's purpose at the last minute, exceeding the deadline to get it on the ballot.

This page remains a reminder and further proof that the city cannot be trusted or relied upon for a proper solution. If anything is to be done, it will have to come from the citizens.


A citizens' voter initiative (details below) was filed in March 2014 by residents of Mesa:

"This initiative proposes to amend Mesa City Charter, Article VI, by adding Section 614. Its primary and most important provisions (1) require that the City Council establish aeronautical fees, including landing fees, for Falcon Field to make the airport as financially self-sustaining as possible; (2) require that aeronautical fees be fair and reasonable, not unjustly discriminate against aeronautical users or groups, and expended only as allowed under federal law; (3) provide for the methodology and require transparency in developing fees; and (4) establish an Aeronautical Fee Commission to develop a proposed ordinance to become final after consideration by Council."

By establishing aeronautical fees, the initiative would bring about less dependence on FAA grants/subsidies and the restrictions they impose, while promoting fair and responsible use of the airport. As a byproduct of the initiative, continuous repetitive training operations would be discouraged.

After 5 years of little more than ineffective solutions from the City, we are finally looking at a solution which shows some promise. However, in a recent Republic article, it is mentioned that the City Council is opposed to this effort. In response to the filing, the City has formed it's own version of the commission that the initiative intends to establish, however it will not be effective without your input.

Councilmembers are being flooded with calls from supporters of aviation, most of whom are from out of state and do not even fly out of Falcon Field. These supporters of aviation are threatening and discouraging Council from considering the very landing fees that will reestablish reasonable use of the airport. Council is not hearing from enough real residents of Mesa; we need to contact them and let them know that we support the establishment of landing fees and fair use of the airport.

It is apparent that the airport administration wants to keep traffic levels high at Falcon. We suspect this is for financial reasons and will be investigating further -- perhaps the airport receives more FAA subsidies/grant money for having more activity. They repeatedly claim that they can not do anything about noise and traffic at Falcon Field, yet they have also said many times that they will not establish landing fees without [CAE's] input, which means it will never happen if we do not take action.

Their standpoint was made even more obvious in a recent email regarding runway closures for construction purposes. What could be a break for Mesa residents in the form of reduced traffic, is viewed as an inconvenience by the airport administration:
"Closing down a runway, even if for a temporary time period, impacts the Airport’s ability to provide the high quality of service that airport users know and have come to expect. It also affects the airport’s contribution to the City of Mesa as a major economic engine. Therefore, when runway closures become necessary, we plan them at times that will minimize impacts to our tenants, other users, and the community. "

(It is important to note that supporters of aviation will often refer to an airport as an "important economic engine". This is a misleading buzzword which attempts to distract people from the major problems that airports cause. In reality, an airport is no more of an "economic engine" than a casino, shopping center, or other commercial facility.)

As the airport administration maintains their refusal to acknowledge that this is a long-standing problem, it is apparent that they will continue to favor the needs of aviation over those of the community, and that they will take no action without our motivation.

It is therefore important to ensure that the initiative continues and is successful, if we are to see any effective improvement in conditions at the airport.

Please email Council, or call the Councilmembers, and let them know that you are in support of establishing landing fees at Falcon Field, in order to promote fair and responsible use of the airport. Please urge others to do the same.

Email addresses and phone numbers for all Councilmembers can be found on the right side of this page. David Luna is councilman for District 5 which includes the airport, but for more effectiveness, please contact each of the Councilmembers and let them know your opinion.

News


[Upon filing the initiative with the City,] The result was immediate . The Chamber of Commerce (led by the AOPA Representative) came out opposed to our efforts. Not sure what the AOPA has to do with economic development.
A few members of our group also met with the Vice Mayor and the new apparent Mayor. The meeting lasted for over 1 1/2 hours and was very good.
The following is a summary of our position, that appears to be supported by many members of Council.
The overarching issue is that the City has never developed an Economic Development plan for the area. They have one for Gateway, Fiesta and Downtown, but not Falcon Field. The airport has been treated as a step child and left to fend for itself. The current Mayor and all in attendance at the meeting agreed on this point. When I have talked to employers locating in Tempe and Scottsdale about North East Mesa, they've told me that they didn't even know that opportunities to locate there were available. Those who I talked to had about 30% of their employees commuting from our neighborhoods to work. The other issue before the City is that Falcon Field has been forced to live off of Fuel taxes and ground lease payments to operate that airport. This barely covers the day to day operations and will continue to get worse as the General Aviation occupancy continues to decline.
Those in attendance picked up that Business Aviation from job creating employers was the appropriate approach. These employers typically have 1-2 corporate aircraft who take off 2-3 times a day, buy lots of fuel, and rely on local companies to provide maintenance services there by providing aviation related companies more opportunities than are presently available.

Currently anything that Falcon Field needs in the form of Capital improvements will not come from the City, but rather from Federally funded, FAA grants. The source of these funds is the Federal budget which continues to come under intense pressure and may be unreliable in the future. As we all know the Federal Budget is made up of about 70% private, individual income tax receipts and about 30% corporate tax receipts.

The current aircraft traffic at Falcon is comprised of about 75% for profit, Commercial aviation operations. Commercial Aviation comes under 3 different certificates issued by the FAA. Commercial operations are Airlines, air-taxis, commuter planes, charter planes and training facilities.

In summary, the For profit, Commercial operations at Falcon are utilizing 75% of the operations and are being subsidized by the individual taxpayer.

This is the first issue that the Committee is attempting to put on the ballot. Commercial operations need to pay their fair share of improvements to the Airport.

Those in our meeting agreed with this position and suggested that this be put before the Council for a vote well before the general election. They are presently exploring this avenue.

In the meantime, the committee has expended a sizable amount for the benefit of the business community and the neighborhoods. Collecting the signatures needed to place this initiative on the ballot will take additional contributions and volunteers. We have a checking account in the name of the Committee, and welcome contributions of all amounts.
We look forward to comments regarding this update.
04/10/2014
Visit the Voter Initiative page for more more information on a solution that finally shows some promise.

City Council

Mayor, Council & Manager's
Contact System:

http://apps.mesaaz.gov/citizencontact/
E-mail Mayor &
all Council members:

council@Mesaaz.gov

City of Mesa Contacts

Mayor:

Alex Finter
480-644-2388
mayor@mesaaz.gov

City Manager:

Chris Brady
480-644-2066
commanager@mesaaz.gov

Ass't to City Mgr:

Natalie Lewis
480-644-4938
natalie.lewis@mesaaz.gov

District 1 Councilmember:

Dave Richins
480-644-4002
councilmember.richins@mesaaz.gov

District 2 Councilmember:

Terry Benelli
480-644-3772
councilmember.benelli@mesaaz.gov

District 3 Councilmember:

Dennis Kavanaugh
480-644-3003
councilmember.kavanaugh@mesaaz.gov

District 4 Councilmember:

Christopher Glover
480-644-3004
councilmember.glover@mesaaz.gov

District 5 Councilmember:

David Luna
480-644-3771
councilmember.luna@mesaaz.gov

District 6 Councilmember:

Scott Sommers
480-644-4003
councilmember.somers@mesaaz.gov

FF Airport Director:

Corinne Nystrom
480-644-4045
corinne.nystrom@mesaaz.gov