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Flying Club's Eviction Is Upheld

Fullerton airport can expel no-frills group, judge rules. Members seek a new solution.

June 30, 2004|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

An Orange County Superior Court judge Tuesday upheld the Fullerton Municipal Airport's planned eviction of a no-frills flying club that had said, among other things, that it was being punished for charging low fees.

"I'm very disappointed," Tom Polley, general manager of Ray's Flying Club, said of Judge John C. Gastelum's ruling that the eviction can go forward. "I'm not sure if it's a death blow or not for the club."

City Councilman Don Bankhead said he wasn't surprised by the ruling. "I imagine that the plans of the city will be to go ahead with the eviction," he said.

The club, a nonprofit 120-member organization offering low-cost plane rentals, tie-downs and flying lessons as well as free airplane rides for underprivileged children, has been at odds with the city-owned airport's management at least since 1999.

Club members say the argument is mainly about fees paid by pilots to tie down their planes -- Ray's charges $74 a month compared with the city's $84 -- but airport manager Rod Probst has characterized it as a landlord-tenant dispute over safety issues.

Club attorney Julia Kemp said she plans to ask the court for a stay of the eviction. She said she has also filed another court action alleging wrongful eviction.

"Certainly there are no winners in this case," she said. "I am optimistic that the City Council, [given] an understanding of what's going on, could make a more rational decision."

Polley said representatives of the club hope to meet with Bankhead to work out a solution. "I'd be more than happy to meet with them," he said Tuesday. "I have no idea, at this point, what the outcome would be."

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