The Waiver

Gravity asserts itself…

Recently FFFF has been chronicling the goings on at the Fullerton Airport, specifically a lawsuit by a former tenant, AirCombat USA,  and the non-aviation commercial use by another tenant, Hangar 21, who is desirous of expanding its party venue. The two issues are only conjoined only because Hangar 21 was recommended by staff to move into the space that CombatUSA was kicked out of.

With enough fuel the party will get off the ground. An aviation use.

On Tuesday, December 5th, the City Council reviewed and approved the selection of Hangar 21 to occupy the space and signaled its intention to change the Zoning Code to legalize what is obviously not permitted under current zoning regulations.

The issue of Federal Aviation Administration approval of hospitality use was raised by Councilman Greg Sebourn. Fullerton Airport Manager Brendan O’Reilly, in a convoluted statement, finally got around to claiming that he had received a “waiver” from the FAA for using the airport for parties. He didn’t produce this document. Maybe we can help.

We know that back in 2014, O’Reilly communicated with the local branch of the FAA seeking advice on establishment of a non-aeronautical use in a hangar at our airport. Who this proposed lessee was we don’t know because we don’t have the attachments described in the written response from an LA FAA dude,  David Cushing. It may have been the establishment of a party venue known as Hangar 21 Venue.

Here’s what the FAA had to say:

Well, I don’t know about you, but I can read English pretty darn well. Once you strip away the cross-bureaucracy congratulations and the double-talk, the message is crystal clear: raise money to support the airport, but continue to keep non-aeronautical uses out of aeronautical areas. I don’t  know which part of an airport is non-aeronautical, but an airplane hangar ain’t it.

Is O’Reilly’s FAA waiver in reality the Cushing letter of October 2014? I can’t be sure, but that’s what the City provided when asked for documentation of FAA approval. If it is we may be heading for turbulence up ahead.



15 Replies to “The Waiver”

  1. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if that letter was the alleged waiver. That’s how public employees operate. If the document doesn’t support what you want then just say it does. Hell, most of the time they don’t even have to show the piece of paper and even when they do nobody challenges them on the lie.

  2. I watched the meeting. Sebourn actually sounded like he was doing his job for a few minutes there. Then pffft.

    1. I watched it too. Did you notice how no one bothered to ask how Hangar 21 was able to operate in violation of the zoning with impunity? And instead of call for accountability the council just went a long with the post facto zone change.

      I sure hop Whitaker isn’t planning on running for State Senate on the themes of transparency and accountability.

  3. I don’t think the zoning issue is exclusive to Hangar 21 if you look at the city zoning map you will see that there are othe PL zoned areas in the city. With that being the case any business that has “assembly” as part of their business such as a restaurant, bar, coffee shop, or any other place people “gather” would be effected. So does this mean that the Wings Cafe would also be effected? Is it possible that this situation brought an old muni code to the surface? I think one of the council people said the code needed to be “fixed”. I don’t really know much about this stuff but just seems like if we take a deeper look at it this issue is not exclusive to any one business.

    1. Good points. A zone code amendment would affect any laned zoned for the P-L district. The cafe at the airport will be legitimized.

      The bigger question that you raise is the way a change might affect other P-L zoned land – including the library and city hall, parks and schools, etc.


      Looks like this little maneuver is meant to legitimize a whole bunch of existing illegal uses -including those by the City itself

      1. A diner at the airport could be easily justified as an amenity for the airport users. A party hangar could not.

        1. The FAA may well look at it that way, but the FMC does not permit a commercial use except a plant (non-cannabis) nursery.

    2. Of course the zoning issue isn’t restricted to the airport. The resolution for the zone change should have been a completely separate agenda item and a separate vote. This is just the way things are done in government. Don’t admit anything is wrong, don’t admit you effed up, just slide through the fix with a wink and a nod, a promotion, a pension spike and an attaboy from our “conservative” politicians.

    3. The municipal code is an evolving set of laws the council votes to change constantly. That they’re too lazy or inept to read it and that staff manipulates & compounds the problem without addressing it openly is in and of itself an issue.

      Sort of like when Haluza used to shift the goalposts whenever downtown was brought up and the solution was always some grand overhaul that typically involved gifting city resources to favored businesses and charging residents more for the favor the city neglecing their duties for generations all the while getting tongue bathed by the Floys/Fitzgeralds of the dais.

      Never does the city just enforce the laws as written and then change them when justified. That would require doing real work.

      Think of it this way – if the city didn’t like the owner of Hanger21 their bid would have been rejected outright because the business violated the muni code. But that’s not the case so instead the city violated their own zoning to choose a business which can’t legally operate where it operates and now that people realize it the city is changing the code because rules only apply to the disfavored.

      Yay open and honest government. It’s too bad we didn’t have a mayor over the past year who could have championed a change to this nonsense.

    4. an airport is an airport,,,and what happened is a right off pay out..ask the diner what they pay to the city rent and part of the gross??? extortion most likely

  4. Brendan O’Brendan got his response from the FAA in October ’14. Three months later (supposedly) Sims began his business at the airport. Staff claims the parties didn’t start ’til March of ’16, but i wonder.

  5. How funny! Our staff can’t even cook up a story right. First they brag about the success – 11,000 party people in a year and a half (all partying illegally). Then O’Reilly dismisses the party use as just “ancillary,” an obvious contradiction that he is too dumb to recognize. Or maybe he knows that nobody on the City Council will recognize it, either.

  6. just had an educational happening today, that trailer was still blocking the door, two police officers were near the restrooms across the hangar way.I asked them If they could help solve a problem that has been going on for a week..
    I let them in and tried to open that back door, the two police officers were so excited commenting that it was wrong and something needs to be done about it,,they called dispatch and the airport manager who showed up,,suddenly no action of the door was to be taken, “they were there to keep the peace” and it was above their pay grade” talked to the fire safety office and he told me the door does not exist and he has no authority to cite the blockage of a door that has no building permit or plans….So are they still going to charge Mike Blackstone for a structure in a hangar that has no permits plans or inspections????? and will Mr Sims follow code and tear out the second story? or will the city charge Mike Blackstone for something like this door that’s there and is non existing ???? sadly I come to another adage from long ago SO IT IS WRITTEN So SHALL IT BE DONE????so estopel does not apply in either case???

    as for the fire inspectors comment of being good neighbors doesn’t go both ways???just because Mr Sims and the Airport manager in the past treated me like a pair of dicks , endangered an aircraft,not provide a 135 certificate and so on ??? me I’m just a mechanic “fuck them” ….

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