By Raymond Bender
Foolishly believing that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) makes timely decisions, a friend and I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the FAA on July 29, 2017. Why? To gather info to comment on the County of San Diego 2018 McClellan-Palomar Master Plan.
We asked for the records showing what the FAA knew about the County of San Diego opening three landfills on McClellan-Palomar Airport for a 14-yeard period in the 1960s and 1970s.
Why this request? Because the County of San Diego has received more than $30 million in FAA funds and agreed to FAA grant conditions. And the County now wants at least $70 million more to extend and relocate its Palomar runway 800-feet. One FAA grant condition says: Don’t use airport property for non-airport purposes.
We also asked for an FOIA fee waiver. The feds charge for records unless an FOIA fee exemption applies. Two exemptions should apply. Reporters with a demonstrated history of informing the public of community issues qualify for an exemption. FOIA fee waivers also apply when records are requested that further a significant public interest.
One week after our request, the FAA West Coast FOIA office denied it. On August 3, 2017, we filed our appeal with the FAA in Washington, D.C. As of March 9, 2018, the FAA official position is: We’re still reviewing the issues. [Read more…]