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Congressman Paul Cook Discusses Arrowhead Flight Path

 

By Congressman Paul Cook

In April of this year, something happened over Lake Arrowhead that should have never happened: a commercial aircraft flew over the lake. Unfortunately, this was the first of many flights, and for almost all of Lake Arrowhead residents, this was their first “notification” of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) project called Metroplex. I strongly believe the lack of community notification and opportunity for public involvement in the Metroplex process invalidates the FAA findings and requires them to move the flight path either back to its original track or to a track that the community accepts.

The FAA Metroplex project was meant to update and maximize all the terminal flight routes into and out of all the Los Angeles area airports, including Ontario International Airport. The goals included improved safety, fuel conservation, and decreased flight times. Planning began as early as 2011 and was supposed to include community engagement along the way. Unfortunately, the FAA proved ineffective – intentionally or otherwise – in their efforts with Lake Arrowhead residents. I’ve asked the FAA to provide me all documents, correspondence, and notifications that went out to our region to figure out why they considered “community engagement” accomplished. Thus far, I have seen no evidence that the FAA reached out directly to residents around Lake Arrowhead. Critical to my office, I want to know why a federal agency didn’t coordinate with me, the elected representative to the federal government, on an issue of high significance to my constituents.

We need to get to the bottom of this problem. I recently wrote a Request for Information (RFI) to the current head of the FAA and bluntly stated, “the residents of the unincorporated region around Lake Arrowhead were not given adequate notification that the Metroplex changes could affect airspace over their community.” It’s obvious by the community reaction that no one would have ignored the community engagement process if they had truly been informed of the potential impact. I also stated my concerns over the lack of outreach by the FAA to local, state, and federal elected officials on this issue.

Moving forward, my primary goal is to get the flight paths moved away from Lake Arrowhead and to a location with less impact. The longer this new flight route exists, the greater the impact to our residents and the critical tourism industry. I recently held a personal meeting with senior FAA officials to voice my displeasure and was told the FAA is currently working on a solution. The subsequent RFI sent to the FAA encourages them to reverse the flight routes. While I’m encouraged by these actions, I also know we’re a long way from victory. I have also reached out to lawmakers on the Congressional House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the organization that authorizes funding for the FAA, to look at further options in case a resolution were the first to bring the issue to my attention, and they’ve done a great job keeping me up to date and pressuring the FAA to find a solution. Community involvement like theirs will be essential as we move forward to fix this problem.

No one should ever have their lives and livelihoods affected by a government process that they weren’t able to participate in or contribute to before a decision was made. I’ll continue to push the FAA to correct this problem, and I’ll work to ensure our residents never get left out of the decision process again.

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Critical to this whole effort has been the actions of the Quiet Skies Lake Arrowhead group. They were the first to bring the issue to my attention, and they’ve done a great job keeping me up to date and pressuring the FAA to find a solution. Community involvement like theirs will be essential as we move forward to fix this problem.

No one should ever have their lives and livelihoods affected by a government process that they weren’t able to participate in or contribute to before a decision was made. I’ll continue to push the FAA to correct this problem, and I’ll work to ensure our residents never get left out of the decision process again.

 

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