How does the Airport benefit me, someone who doesn’t fly?
While the airport does not have scheduled airline service, it does provide many benefits to the community-at-large, not just local pilots. The Big Bear Airport facilitates emergency medical, fire, law enforcement, and search and rescue operations. During a natural disaster the Airport may be the only access to Big Bear, due to impassable roads.
The 2020 fire season was especially active and frequently, US Forest Service, California Department of Forestry and US Military fire-fighting aircraft were stationed at the Big Bear Airport to battle the fires, saving lives and preserving property quickly and efficiently.
Mountain Mutual Aid and the Emergency Operations Center for the entire Big Bear Valley are located at the Big Bear Airport and medical evacuations in our remote mountain community are possible at the Big Bear Airport 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Every other summer, the Big Bear Airport hosts the Air Fair, an event with static and aerial displays, food, fun and entertainment for the whole family. This event is typically free of charge as a way to give back to the community.
The local economy profits from area conventions with participants arriving via business aircraft. General aviation tourism contributes to the local ski, restaurant, hotel, and shopping industries and generates considerable revenue which helps to support local infrastructure projects. In addition, payroll dollars generated by the businesses located at the Airport provide a direct stimulus to the local economy. Local business owners can expand their businesses and travel more efficiently with chartered service or a pilot certificate of their own.
Soon to be updated, a 2014 Economic Impact Study prepared for the Airport, calculated that the Big Bear Airport (through a combination of direct, indirect and reduced impacts) generated a total annual economic output of approximately $8.3 million to the local community.
Why does the Airport have money in reserves?
Government agencies and corporations save reserves for different reasons. It is important to have a contingency fund in the event of an emergency to keep the Airport open and delivering services. Reserves are also kept to protect the ability to pay for public services during economic depressions.
Reserves for construction are required to address cost overruns and unanticipated cost increases. In addition, federal grants are available to airports at approximately 90%. This means that to maintain its airfield infrastructure an airport will need to match the grant with 5-10% local share. Many agencies have difficulty with the local match and often incur debt. The District uses some of its reserves to secure the local match portion of Federal and State Grants.
Generally these grants are for airfield projects only and often do not cover the majority of infrastructure projects required to keep an airport modern, efficient, and the economic engine it can potentially be for a community. Those infrastructure projects, for example a Terminal Building Project, will not be prioritized in the Federal Grant system and may not be eligible for AIP funding.
In these situations, the District can legally save reserves and earmark them for projects. It makes financial sense to save the money for a construction project like a new Terminal Building, in order to reduce the amount of a construction loan. In addition, government accounting standards require reserves (GASB 54) as does good financial practice.
Is the Airport in compliance with State law?
Yes. The Airport’s reserves are confirmed and validated by their current, updated Gann limit. Any claims to the contrary are false.
Can the Airport give the reserve money to taxpayers and other local agencies?
No. The California Constitution prohibits an agency to distribute funds as gifts. Reserves are funds that have been saved and earmarked for capital improvement projects, emergency contingencies, and operating reserves.
How much of my property tax goes to the Airport?
Property taxes in California are generally levied at the rate of 1% of assessed value and are distributed among taxing entities as determined generally by Proposition 13, Senate Bill 154, and Assembly Bill 8. Taxing entities receive an apportioned share of the 1% property tax rate. The County of San Bernardino Auditor-Controller (“Auditor-Controller”) annually publishes a report indicating each taxing entity’s share within each tax rate area.
The District receives property tax revenue from property owners in 49 tax rate areas. In these tax rate areas, the District’s share of the 1% property tax levy ranges from 1.9% to 2.6%. Weighting these rates by the assessed value within each tax rate area provides an average weighted tax rate of approximately 2.3% District-wide. The Big Bear Airport District (BBAD) does not receive tax revenues from properties located outside the District.
The District’s average tax rate equals approximately $23 per $100,000 of assessed value which translates to an average property tax amount paid to the District per homeowner of $56 per year (FY2020-21).
Commercial property owners in the District pay an average of approximately $116 of annual property taxes to the district.
Why is the Airport interested in purchasing adjoining property?
Contrary to what is said by some alarmists, the Airport does not have eminent domain authority and is not interested in taking over property that is not for sale by the property owner. Also, state law requires purchase contingent on Fair Market Value (as determined through an appraisal process).
Often the greatest challenges facing airports today are the result of inadequate planning from previous decades. Poor planning results in encroachment and land uses that are inconsistent with airport operations. Examples of inconsistent land uses include: schools, landfills (which attract birds and other wildlife), and areas of congregation. For instance, it would be unwise to locate a stadium that accommodates thousands of people under the final approach path to a runway. Encroachment typically results in increased noise complaints and legitimate safety concerns for people living and working close to an airport in the event of an aircraft incident or accident.
1000 W. North Shore Drive
The main reason for the purchase of this 5.5 acre parcel is as an encroachment buffer. Its future use has not yet been determined.
Bear City Park
Airport funds paid for the purchase of park property would allow the Airport to protect itself and the community from incompatible use. The area would be kept vacant and well-landscaped, not used for a runway extension or development.
Is there a curfew and what are the hours of operation?
There is no curfew. As a public airport, we are open to arriving and departing aircraft 24/7. However, the terminal building is open 7 days/week from 7:00am to 6:00pm. Fuel is available 24/7 through a self-serve fuel farm. Airport personnel are available after hours for a call out fee.
Can the Airport limit the number or types of aircraft that operate from Big Bear?
Not really. Federal and state governments have limited what local airports can do to regulate operations.
It is important to understand that we can only regulate aircraft on the ground. Aircraft in flight and their specific routes are governed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is why suggested traffic patterns and noise abatement procedures are strictly voluntary. Although we cannot limit operations, we have established voluntary Noise Abatement Procedures to help pilots avoid noise-sensitive residential areas and schools.
Can the Airport restrict military helicopters from operating at Big Bear?
No. We support the military and their training missions into our high altitude airport. Federal Grant Assurances require that we keep the airport available for public use. This includes the military.
How many takeoffs and landings does the Big Bear Airport have each year?
Approximately 15,000 operations occur each year. An operation is counted as either one takeoff or one landing.
The airport collects operational data through the use of an automated system located on the airfield.
What are the rules concerning flying a UAS/drone?
You can review rules for UAS/drones on our website https://www.bigbearcityairport.com/drone-information/ with links to FAA UAS Rules.
Are there plans for airline flights?
No. There are no current plans for airline service. We are, however, working hard to attract smaller charter and business aircraft.
NOISE/ ABATEMENT PROGRAM
What is the Airport doing to mitigate aircraft noise effects on surrounding neighborhoods and how can I file a complaint?
As mentioned earlier, as a public airport, we cannot regulate aircraft in flight. The Airport provides recommendations on traffic patterns and flight paths that help avoid noise sensitive areas and overflight of schools.
You can file a noise complaint on our website https://www.bigbearcityairport.com/report-noise/.