2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 21 Nov 2003 20:03:43 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Defense vs. development
Defense vs. development
Lemoore NAS fears flight paths it uses for training could lose out to
the push for affordable housing
By David Castellon
November 20, 2003

A battle of land versus air could be brewing between the military and
developers over plans to build a town from scratch in the Te-hachapi
Mountains, and the outcome could affect training for aviators at the
Lemoore Naval Air Station and other California bases.

The Navy's top admiral in the southwest has launched the first salvo in
this so-far cordial dispute, asking California's new governor to step in
to help preserve the military's airspace.

The battle line is 11,700 acres of mountainous land near the
intersection of Interstate 5 and state Highway 138, where developers
want to build, starting in 2006, the town of Centennial. It would
consist of 23,000 housing units and 114 million square feet of
industrial developments, said Barbara Casey, a spokeswoman for the
developers. The plan includes Tejon Ranch, which owns the land amid the
arid hills and valleys that separate the San Joaquin Valley and Southern

At 270,000 acres, Tejon Ranch is the largest, privately owned piece of
real estate in California.

Writing "on behalf of all the military services in California," Rear
Adm. J.L. Betancourt described Centennial as a "challenge of immediate
and significant concern" to the Defense Department in an October letter
to then Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Changes to the state's general plan guidelines allow the Governor's
Office of Planning and Research to serve as a go-between in disputes
where private sector activities threaten military readiness.

So the admiral's request is new territory for state leaders.

Betancourt, commander of Navy Region Southwest and the Defense
Department's regional environmental coordinator, detailed how low- and
high-altitude airspace over the Antelope Valley is used for training
flights and flight research by bases that include Lemoore, Point Mugu,
China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, Naval Air Facility at El Centro,
March Air Reserve Base, the Marine Corps Air Station at Miramar and
Edwards Air Force Base.

One of the low-flying air routes -- where aircraft can descend as low as
200 feet -- used by Lemoore cuts a swath over most of the proposed
Centennial site, and four other routes also cross over or near the site.

"The proposed Centennial development underlies a number of military
training routes crucial to maintaining highly perishable pilot skills
necessary for safe execution of one of the most demanding phases of a
combat mission," Betancourt wrote.

The routes "support the pre-deployment training of [aircraft] carrier
battle groups and facilitate mission-critical testing of remote weapons
systems and unmanned airborne vehicles."

In addition, they serve as air corridors between the coast and training
ranges in California, Arizona and Nevada.

"Given the likelihood of significant impact, we are writing this letter
to seek your direct involvement," Betancourt wrote to Schwarzenegger.

This article can be viewed at:

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