Moving SBSO Air Fleet From Rialto To SB International

(February 25)  After years of delays, the county board of supervisors this week officially committed to relocating the sheriff’s department’s aviation division from Rialto Airport to San Bernardino International Airport.
Upon the recommendation of David Slaughter, the director of the county’s real estate department, and sheriff John McMahon, the county entered into a 25-year lease and fuel service agreement with the San Bernardino International Airport Authority for an approximately 61,640  square foot aviation facility consisting of a 27,500 square foot aircraft maintenance hangar, a 22,500 square foot storage hangar and 11,640 square feet of office space on approximately eight acres of land.
The county also signed a work agreement with the authority for the completion of 348,639 square feet of site work improvements.
San Bernardino International Airport is located on the grounds of the now shuttered Norton Air Force Base, lying between the cities of Highland and San Bernardino and north of Loma Linda. The airport is owned and operated by a joint powers agency, the San Bernardino International Airport Authority, which consists of the county of San Bernardino, and the cities of Highland, Colton, Loma Linda and San Bernardino.
According to a report to the board of supervisors jointly submitted by McMahon and Slaughter, “This item is for a twenty-five year lease with San Bernardino International Airport Authority for a new aviation facility for the sheriff consisting of 50,000 square feet of hangar space for aircraft storage and maintenance, 11,640 square feet for office space and other aviation related site improvements on approximately eight acres located at San Bernardino International Airport in San Bernardino because of the need to relocate from the soon-to-be closed Rialto Municipal Airport and provide additional hangar and office space to accommodate the expanded aviation needs of the sheriff.”
On July 5, 1977, the board of supervisors approved a twenty-year lease agreement with the city of Rialto for 6.77 acres of land at the Rialto Municipal Airport for rent of $1 per year. The county constructed a 12,750 square foot aviation facility for the sheriff to store and maintain fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, and conduct aviation operations. In the thirty-seven years since the lease was originally approved, the board approved two amendments adding language regarding use of the airport and extend the term thirty years to the current lease termination date of June 30, 2027.
In 2007, however, the continuation of the sheriff’s department’s aviation operations at Rialto Airport was attenuated when the city of Rialto and its redevelopment agency entered into a development agreement with Hillwood/Lewis, LLC, pursuant to which the Rialto Municipal Airport would be decommissioned and the site redeveloped for non-aviation related uses.
At that point the county’s real estate services department and the sheriff began searching for a new location from which its aviation division, the 28th largest air fleet in the world, could be operated. According to McMahon and Slaughter, “The parameters for the search were based on response times, weather conditions (ground fog, wind), sufficient ground to construct a larger facility to provide on-going maintenance and storage for ten helicopters, four fixed wing aircraft and six command post/trailer vehicles, and the overall cost for a new facility.”
San Bernardino International Airport, Chino Airport, Ontario International Airport and a site in Redlands were identified as potential locations for a new facility. County chief executive officer Greg Devereux was a strong proponent for basing the sheriff’s air fleet at Chino Airport. All other participants in the process, however, favored San Bernardino International Airport, which was determined to be the best location and to have the best weather conditions for deployment in response to calls to the sheriff for aviation assistance, 71% of which are for services in the east end of the San Bernardino Valley. On April 6, 2011, the county administrative office approved Capital Improvement Program request No.11-188, submitted by the sheriff for a new aviation facility in San Bernardino consisting of approximately 39,000 square feet of hangar space, 16,000 square feet of office space and 4,200 square feet of shop space. Another factor emerged in headquartering the sheriff’s aviation division in San Bernardino. The sheriff’s emergency operations division includes both the aviation and volunteer forces units. The emergency operations division has forty-four full-time personnel and oversees over 2,000 reservists, citizens on patrol, and other volunteers throughout the county. The emergency operations division provides aviation support to all agencies in the county and handles major disaster and large scale search and rescue operations. The volunteer forces unit is currently located at sheriff headquarters in San Bernardino.
According to McMahon and Slaughter, “Operationally and in the event of an emergency, it is ideal to have both units, aviation and volunteer forces, located in one facility and under one  unified command structure. Consequently, the emergency operations division will also be located in the new aviation facility at San Bernardino International Airport.”
Despite the paltry $1 per year lease payments the county is making to Rialto for the use of the facilities at Rialto Municipal Airport, Rialto is required to provide relocation compensation and assistance to the existing tenants because of its closing. In order to provide a facility of like size and cover moving costs, Rialto offered to pay the county $4,121,878, which the real estate services department and sheriff staff determined to be reasonable. The $4,121,878 payment will be deposited into a Federal Aviation Administration required escrow account and disbursed directly to San Bernardino International Airport Authority as part of the $9,600,000 prepaid rent for the new sheriff aviation facility.
The twenty-five year lease agreement includes five five-year options to extend the term and will commence upon completion and issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the 50,000 square feet of hangar space, the 11,640 square feet of office space and site improvements. The rent for the hangar and office buildings for the initial term of twenty-five years is $9,600,000 and will be paid in full upon completion of the facilities and commencement of the initial twenty-five year lease term.
The initial ground rent for the eight acres for the first five years of the lease term is $6,850 per month. After the initial twenty-five year lease term and upon exercising one or more of five five-year options to extend the term, the county can acquire the hangar and office buildings for $100. The county will be required to continue to pay ground rent during any extended term. The lease is exempt from requirements of County Policy 08-02-01 regarding leasing privately owned real property for county use because San Bernardino International Airport Authority is a public entity.

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