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Proposal causes riddle

Costa Mesa has to decide whether a jet hangar is worth residents’ potential ire.

March 24, 2010|By Mona Shadia

Editor's note: This corrects an earlier version.

A proposed hangar for luxury corporate jets that use John Wayne Airport would mean at least $300,000 a year in property taxes for Costa Mesa.

The problem is the proposal by Newport Beach-based Legacy Aviation could go against Costa Mesa’s commitment to preventing the airport’s footprint from expanding. Costa Mesa is one of six Corridor City Coalition communities most affected by the traffic and noise from takeoffs and landings at JWA.

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But Richard M. Janisse, executive vice president of Legacy Aviation, argues that the proposal would cut noise from private jets by as much as half because corporate jets that pick up and drop off Orange County business professionals would not make extra trips to the airports in Long Beach, Palm Springs or other locations where the airplanes are stored.

Janisse also argues that the project wouldn’t widen JWA’s footprint because the hangar would not expand airport passenger operations.

“The seven principles of the corridor cities were aimed at curtailing the operating and airplane passenger boarding, and what Newport Beach was worried about was John Wayne putting in a second runway,” Janisse said. “Our belief is we’re not enlarging the airport to the point that they would be able to operate more flights.”

If the proposal proceeds, the 2.3-acre corporate hangar could be at 3190 or 2970 Airway Ave. The former is county-owned property slated for a future airport maintenance facility, while the latter is a vacant property in private hands inside city limits. Either agreement would ensure tax revenue for the county and city.

Whether the project would technically expand the airport’s footprint would be determined by the Costa Mesa city attorney, said Costa Mesa Councilman Eric Bever.

“We need to be certain that approving this project would not violate our prior commitment under the corridor city agreement,” Bever said. “That, I think, is the key. The money and the benefit to the city don’t outweigh our commitment. If it can be determined that the proposal wouldn’t expand the footprint of the airport, I would give it my full consideration.”

Melinda Seely, AirFair president, a group committed to blocking any expansion at JWA, said in an e-mail to City Manager Allan Roeder that she and the rest of the AirFair board voted unanimously to oppose Legacy Aviation’s proposal.

Supporting it, she wrote, could lead to future incremental expansion of the airport’s footprint.


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