SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Potential changes to Lake Tahoe Airport have been discussed thoroughly in South Lake Tahoe the past couple days, as a master plan regarding the future of the facility continues to be developed.
While many of the changes are merely concepts at this point, one — the release of a certificate required for commercial airline service — was moved forward on Tuesday.
The certificate, commonly known as a Part 139 certificate, is required for scheduled passenger service by aircraft with nine or more passenger seats. It is granted to certain airports that meet various requirements, many of which are associated with safety.
City councilmembers voted unanimously to get rid of the certificate after being informed by consultants that many of the features regarding safety would be upheld by the city, regardless of whether it’s obligated by the FAA, and that releasing the certificate would save the city about $120,000 per year.
“It is already inactive,” City Manager Nancy Kerry said at Tuesday’s city council meeting. “And in spite of it being inactive, the city does maintain all the standards necessary.”
She added that the airport could always attempt to get the certification back in the future, if it so desires.
Moving further away from commercial airline service in South Lake Tahoe doesn’t come as a surprise to those following the process — the city council already decided in August that it would like to gear the new master plan currently in development toward general aviation instead of commercial use.
That master plan was the focus of another airport meeting Monday evening, when the public had the chance to comment on options for potential airport changes. Those options, or “concept alternatives,” were separated into two distinct categories: potential changes to the airfield (the runway and taxiway) and potential changes to landside facilities (the terminal area, aircraft parking and hangars).
Features of the airfield alternatives included narrowing the runway and taxiway — while maintaining the requirements to accommodate the B-II family of aircraft— or widening the space between the runway and taxiway, to meet the standards of the C-III family of aircraft.
Landside alternatives included a focus on maximizing aeronautical land uses, non-aeronautical land uses or a mix of both. Many additions in those options also highlighted revenue-generating projects at the airport, such as a self-serve fuel station and large storage hangar.
C&S Companies is helping the city prepare the final master plan document. Michael Hotaling, senior vice president with the consulting company, spoke about the alternatives Monday.
“An important distinction to make, as well, is that the final alternative will more than likely be a hybrid,” Hotaling said, to an audience of more than 50 people at Lake Tahoe Airport. “It will likely not be any one of those alternatives you see in the lobby. But based on the input of the community and the decisions on the city’s part, what will be the best alternative will probably be a combination of pieces from each of those alternatives.”
Once the alternatives become clear, they will go through an environmental review process and eventually to the council for a decision.