San Lorenzo Citizens Fighting Airport Noise

Hayward Airport Layout Plan — Update #2

Expansion of Airport Traffic Requires Major Changes in Runways

March 7, 2010
(Posted Sept. 21, 2010)

Expansion of jet traffic at the Hayward Airport will require expanding one runway and shortening the other, according to a report presented to the City Council Airport Committee February 25.

Airport manager Lloyd Partin emphasized that the City must keep the airport layout plan current or lose the opportunity for FAA grants for development. However, the City has decided to upgrade airport design to an "airport reference code" that will not be supported by air traffic until some uncertain point in the future. In this way, perhaps, the City is laying the groundwork of a wished-for future.

Partin presented a "snapshot" of possible changes to the existing airport layout plan, based on Airport Layout Plan Update: Draft Final Narrative Report, released in February and available on CD from the airport office.

The most important change will be in the parallel runways. He summarized the preferred change that emerged from an analysis last year of 10 alternatives. A checklist of criteria was applied to the 10 alternatives in a first round of evaluation, followed by a second round of more thorough evaluation that included consideration of environmental consequences and project costs. (See Technical Report 1: Airfield Alternatives, July 2009, prepared by a private firm AECOM. This report is available in the airport office.)

Refinements of the preferred alternative were made to avoid negative impacts on Skywest Golf Course, leased by Hayward Area Parks and Recreation District until 2019. The golf course provides significant revenues to the airport from fees charged, and loss of that revenue would have a serious negative impact on the sustainability of the airport. Officials of the City of Hayward concluded that they should not reclaim the leased land until the lease runs out. In addition, the golf course provides a buffer of sorts between the airport and San Lorenzo Village homes. The preferred alternative would eliminate several trees that are believed to "help shield the neighborhood from aircraft operations noise" (Technical Report 1, page 52).

A number of other, complicated refinements are planned to maintain the FAA-recommended runway safety area (RSA) and runway object-free area (ROFA). Among these would be to invoke "declared distances" to provide adequate safety areas. The declared distance concept allows an airport to accommodate operations by larger or heavier aircraft within existing constraints on available land and still maintain an acceptable margin of safety.

The February Draft Final Narrative Report includes a list of specific projects in two phases: a near term (next five years) and long term (to 2020). Partin said the next steps in completing the airport layout plan to be submitted to the FAA for approval include an "environmental review" of the near-term projects.

Bob Bauman, director of public works for the City of Hayward, said that a "noise contour map" based on new developments through 2020 remains within the airport and that the details of the map will stay very similar to what was projected in the Airport Master Plan adopted in 2002. (The FAA and State of California consider noise impacts below 65 decibels, averaged over time, as tolerable. Noise contour maps show the areas that receive an annual average of 65 decibels.)

Bauman explained that the issue of avigation easements would not be addressed until the Airport Master Plan is revised sometime in the future. Avigation easements relieve an airport from legal liability for noise, fumes, and vibration. They are highly controversial at present because the FAA has been promoting, some would say insisting, that airports acquire avigation easements over existing neighborhoods. But they are not required by the FAA, as Bauman suggested, as the FAA has no authority to require such easements. (See Avigation Easements and Prescriptive Avigation Easements.)

The cost of all projects identified in the revised airport layout plan is about $95 million. Bauman explained that there is no guarantee the FAA will approve grants for any particular project, since the FAA sets its own funding priorities from year to year and the amount of funds available in any one year can vary drastically.