50 Years In City, No Prospect Cable Airport Will Cease As Aviation Facility

This week the one year countdown toward the date when both the owners of Cable Airport and the City of Upland are free to discontinue its function as an aviation facility began.
Nevertheless, the airport which has been in existence for 70 years, including 21 years before the land on which it lies was enclosed within the Upland City Limits, appears destined to remain as a private aerodrome for at least another generation and beyond, such that planes will continue to take off and land from there when the facility reaches its century mark.
Tuesday marked the 49 year anniversary of the October 20, 1966 agreement between the City of Upland and Dewey Cable and the members of his family to annex the airport into the city.
On that Thursday evening long ago at a specially-held city council meeting, Dewey Cable, and his three sons – Roger Cable, Walter Cable and Paul Cable – as well as his daughter, Mrs. Mildred Cable Stewart, joined with city officials led by then-mayor James Christenson and councilman Ronald Rossiter, in affixing their signatures to what was termed an option-to-lease agreement.
That agreement brought the airport property, described at the time as 118.1 acres lying between the westlying prolongation of 13th and 14th streets and extending 2,679 feet west from Benson Avenue together with another area extending 110 feet north of Foothill Blvd. and 100 feet west of Central Avenue, into the city. By the terms of the agreement, the city rezoned the property, which had been in its sphere-of-influence, essentially making any challenges to the continued use of the property as an airport unviable. The agreement provided protection of the runway approaches. Moreover,
the agreement locked the airport’s ownership into sustaining the aviation use there for fifty years. The agreement gave the city the right to prevent any other use of the facility even if the Cable Family sold the property.
The document signing on October 20, 1966 was followed by the city council’s first vote to ratify the agreement at its November 1, 1966 meeting, followed by its second confirming vote to ratify the vote on November 15. The annexation, which had previously been approved by San Bernardino County’s Local Formation Commission, went into effect on December 15, 1966.
Any thought that what is billed as the world’s largest family-owned airport will no longer host pilots and their planes so that the property can be developed for some other use has never been seriously considered, said Bob Cable, Dewey Cable’s grandson, who is now the president of Cable Airport.
With regard to the 1966 pact, Bob Cable said, “The agreement was an option for the city to take over the airport if we ceased to operate it as an airport. It was actually removed in 2014 by a resolution by the city because it was holding up a construction loan for the airport. We will be in the city’s new master plan and the surrounding areas will be zoned as airport commercial. We aren’t going anywhere for the next fifty years.”
Cable added, “We have received enough federal grants that anyone that wanted to purchase, would have a major bill to pay. We’re not selling and have a current master plan that goes out 20 years for airport improvements.”
Cable-Claremont Airport, as it was known until 1961, was founded in 1945 by Dewey and Maude Cable, who bought the land for $8,500. The Cables divided the land, selling the northern portion for what the entire parcel had cost them. That part was developed into a quarry by Holliday Rock.
Stephen Dunn, the city of Upland’s former city manager, is now the airport’s general manager.
Dunn told the Sentinel, “The Cable Family has had no discussions regarding the airport property other than it remaining as a general aviation airport. Basically, the goal is to have it be the last standing family-owned general aviation airport in Southern California, whatever that takes. That is what Dewey Cable wanted. Our mission now is to promote this as the finest facility of its kind in the greater Los Angeles area.”
With regard to pressure to have the airport property put to a different use, he said there are a number of considerations with regard to making a conversion. “You have to consider the value of the land and the cost of fuel, which drives demand for an airport. There are other factors. But none of that matters in this case. The airport is paid for. There is tremendous opportunity with a facility like this. With a privately owned airport you have far greater flexibility than with one that is publicly owned.”

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