Former Mayor John Linn and City Council member Jim Mosby have been deceiving and tricking their friends, associates and community for the last several years into believing they can deliver a motorsports park on airport property.
Members of the community have been convinced by the pair to donate money and time to a project that has zero chance for approval by the agency overseeing airports.
On Feb. 2, the interim city manager provided a 90-day update on the status of the project. She told the council that Lompoc Valley Park, Recreation and Pool Foundation Chairman Linn believed the proposed termination of a memorandum of understanding to construct and operate the park was based on “lies.”
It’s important to note that the foundation failed to meet any of the timelines they agreed to in any version of the MOU that either Linn or Mosby signed. Before Linn tosses a serious word like “lie” around he might want to review the foundation’s performance first. But, that has never bothered him in the past.
In his typical bullying style, he also threatened legal action if the city didn’t do what he wanted done, and claimed the foundation had hired a lawyer and former Federal Aviation Administration employee to assist them in developing a new plan for the project. So, the foundation is willing to toss more good money into a dead-end project. When will they wake up and smell the coffee?
Early in this project the FAA informed Linn, who was mayor at the time, that an airport operator who accepts federal airport grants agrees to the conditions and assurances in those grant agreements. These assurances include the obligation to use hangars and other designated aeronautical facilities on the airport exclusively for aeronautical purposes.
As the operator of the airport the city is obligated to comply with this condition when planning projects on airport property. But no matter, Linn could move mountains. At least that’s what he convinced his followers he could do.
The FAA appears to be unmovable on this subject. When Santa Maria proposed placing a golf course on some unused airport property the FAA firmly rejected that proposal.
During the update discussion one council member, a long-time supporter of the motorsports project, asked if the Skydive landing site was on the Airport Master Plan or if they were being charged rent for using it. This sounds a lot like a harassing tactic designed to cause the Skydive operation to move out of town.
The current and outdated AMP discusses neither the Skydive landing area nor does it include the proposed motorsports park. Approval of this plan and development of airport property isn’t a function of city government. The AMP and development plans must be approved by the FAA whose officials have already informed the city, and Linn specifically, that non-aviation uses would not be approved.
By circumventing the Planning Commission, the council hearings were based on emotional, personal and political considerations rather than a factual analysis of the project. This was a mistake.
For all of you, this includes council members Dirk Starbuck and Victor Vega, who have blindly followed Linn and Mosby for the past few years, you should take a cold, hard look at the leadership qualities of people who are willing to hoodwink you, your friends and neighbors into supporting a project that was dead on arrival when it was initially proposed.
Leadership is difficult and sometimes it means you must face facts and tell your friends “we just can’t do it.”