Verbal Assurance Given SBIAA Eastgate Cargo Flights Won’t Pass Over Lake Arrowhead

The development of the Eastgate Air Cargo Facility at San Bernardino International Airport will result in what airport officials said they anticipated would be a “marginal” increase in flight activity over the San Bernardino Mountain communities.
Cargo carriers will seek to minimize the impacts of the increase in flight activity, consisting primarily of increased sound levels from what is anticipated to be no more than two dozen more flights per day, by the use of a flight route that will keep the planes from flying directly over Lake Arrowhead, Lake Gregory, Crestline, Twin Peaks and the Valley of Enchantment.
The Eastgate project is a project put forth by Hillwood Enterprises, LP, of which Ross Perot, Jr. is the chairman. Hillwood in January 2017 obtained from the San Bernardino International Airport Authority’s board of directors an exclusive right to negotiate for a ground lease on a 2 million square foot expanse located on the airport property for the creation a cargo logistics center. Upon the finalization of what is to be at least a 35-year ground-lease agreement with the San Bernardino International Airport Authority, the center is to be subleased to an as-yet unnamed eventual tenant/operator.
The undertaking entails the creation of a new hub at San Bernardino International Airport Authority which will mean an increase in cargo flights out of the facility. Some of those flights, primarily those ferrying cargo to the Midwest and East Coast, will fly over the mountains.
According to an environmental impact report on the project, “San Bernardino International Airport Authority proposes to develop the Eastgate Air Cargo Facility to accommodate the demand for air cargo logistics operations,” adding that the project will involve “construction of taxilanes and an aircraft parking apron to accommodate up to 14 aircraft, a 658,500-square-foot distribution center with connecting aircraft ramps, two 25,000-square-foot maintenance buildings, and automobile parking with approximately 2,000 parking stalls.”
The San Bernardino International Airport Authority is a joint powers agency among the County of San Bernardino, the City of San Bernardino, the City of Colton, the City of Highland and the City of Loma Linda devoted to the civilian use conversion of what was formerly Norton Air Force Base.
As of earlier this summer, the final language and terms of the ground lease had yet to be negotiated, nor had a tenant been identified. Despite that, there are other indications that such a cargo carrier is indeed interested in and committed to operating out of San Bernardino. In October 2018, the San Bernardino International Airport Authority approved the Eastgate project’s environmental impact report, which stated the “timeline for the [Eastgate project] been accelerated to meet the needs of a prospective tenant to have [Eastgate] in operation by October of 2019.”
According to the environmental impact report, a delay in construction  “is not feasible because it would not meet project objectives established by the prospective tenant. The project’s development is dependent on the support of the tenant, and the tenant would not support the extended timeline.” According to the environmental impact report, once fully operational, the facility will add 24 or more around-the-clock air cargo flights.
Overflights above Lake Arrowhead have been and continue to be a concern. In April 2017, the Federal Aviation Administration initiated its Southern California Metroplex Project, which was intended to increase the efficiency of the approaches into five Southern California commercial airports and reduce fuel consumption. The revised routing, based on pre-set satellite navigation beams, diverted westbound planes formerly headed to Ontario International Airport from their previous trajectory over the San Bernardino Mountains using Heaps Peak as a pass-over locus to the airspace above 5,100 foot elevation Lake Arrowhead. Those planes flew at anywhere from an elevation of 7,200 feet to 9,600 feet on what is referred to as the EAGLZ route, such that they passed somewhere between 2,100 feet to 4,500 feet over the homes, schools and businesses of Lake Arrowhead.
Those overflights, disturbing at any time of the day, were particularly problematic at night, when the natural ambient noise level had dropped and the jet engines’ cacophony interfered with the populace’s sleeping patterns. After an extensive lobbying effort by Quiet Skies Lake Arrowhead, a group led by Lake Arrowhead resident David Caine and the intercession of Second District San Bernardino County Supervisor Janice Rutherford, Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, Congressman Paul Cook, U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, after a year the Federal Aviation Administration relented and Southern California’s terminal control center began vectoring Ontario Airport’s nighttime arrivals onto a path east of the EAGLZ arrival route.
In response to Hillwood and the San Bernardino International Airport Authority’s plans for Eastgate, another grassroots organization, Friends of Lake Arrowhead Mountain Communities, led by Caine as the organization’s recording secretary, its president, Matthew Kallis, and its chief financial officer, Anthony St. John, initiated communication with the San Bernardino International Airport Authority’s executive director, Michael Burrows, the director of aviation at SBIAA, Mark Gibbs, and Steve Alverson, a project manager at the airport overseeing Eastgate. Reportedly, the representatives of Friends of Lake Arrowhead Mountain Communities were not able to achieve their goal of getting airport officials to keep any additional planes from flying over Lake Arrowhead and its environs but nonetheless wrung from airport official a nonbinding and unwritten assurance that the flights originating from Eastgate which sojourn over the San Bernadino Mountains will be routed over Heaps Peak, rather than Lake Arrowhead, Crestline or Lake Gregory.

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