Looming Sequestration Cuts Could Force Closure of Concord’s Buchanan Field Airport Tower

February 26, 2013 15:00 pm · 81 comments



With a possible federal budget sequestration looming on March 1, the Federal Aviation Administration could close several Bay Area air traffic control towers and flights into major airports like San Francisco’s could face delays of up to 90 minutes.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta issued a letter to other aviation officials on Friday warning of the possible reductions as Congress decides whether to avoid the automatic spending cuts.

The sequestration is based on legislation last year that said if no compromise was reached by the congressional Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, then $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts will take place over the next decade.

The letter by LaHood and Huerta said those cuts would have a drastic effect on air travel, including the possible closing of more than 100 air traffic control towers nationally and elimination of overnight shifts at more than 60 others.

The proposed cuts could also mean one furlough day per pay periodfor the FAA’s 47,000 employees, according to the officials.

Local air traffic control towers that could be closed include the ones at airports in Napa, Santa Rosa, Concord, Livermore, San Carlos and Salinas.

The shutdowns would begin as soon as April, according to the letter, which said the reduction in air traffic controllers on staff would
mean delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours at airports in San Francisco, New York, Chicago and other major cities.

U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, denounced Congressional Republicans for not yet agreeing to a solution to stave off these potential cuts.

“These political games being played by the House Majority in Washington are costing real people their jobs here at home and unnecessarily putting people’s safety at risk,” Thompson said in a statement.

He said both the Napa and Santa Rosa airports would be forced to furlough or lay off a number of employees if those air traffic control towers close, even temporarily.

Thompson added that planes in both airports would be operating in uncontrolled airspace, while nearly all flights there currently are during controlled air times.

“Instead of this manufactured crisis, we need a balanced, bold plan that creates jobs, cuts spending, reforms our tax code so that everyone is paying their fair share and protects Social Security and Medicare. That’s what I’m working for,” he said.

Copyright © 2013 by Bay City News, Inc. — Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

photo credit: “Flash”

Jim February 26, 2013 at 3:05 PM

The fed prints 89 billion each and every month…I say this is all scare tactics and BS…it’s about saving Obama’s social welfare voters than it is about losing services…I call BS

Perfect February 26, 2013 at 3:10 PM

GO FOR IT, just means politicians will be voted OUT of office. Maybe the next ones will care about the country instead of controlling.

Cy Nical February 26, 2013 at 3:11 PM

How much could we save if we cut the politicians? They all seem to think they work for their respective parties, not the American people.

Patty February 26, 2013 at 3:14 PM

This is all fake scare tactics. Did you hear the DHS released hundreds of illegal aliens to save money over the weekend. If this wasn’t to scare people, then why did they do it before the March 1 deadline? All total BS. I say, let’s go over the fiscal cliff and cut costs.

Han Solo February 26, 2013 at 3:14 PM

I don’t need no stinking air traffic control tower for the millenium falcon.

WTF February 26, 2013 at 3:15 PM

Scare tactics period. Screw them. I say GOOD! STOP SPENDING MONEY!

Jim February 26, 2013 at 3:20 PM

and another thing…U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, denounced Congressional Republicans…it was your bosses plan…why do you want to balme republicans…you got a 600 billion dollar tax increase 2 months ago and now you want mor and STILL do not want to cut spending….the balme fall sqyarely and egually across both parties…stop playing the balme game and come to an understanding…if they spent 50% as much time working on a solution as they do complaining we’d have this solved….and how much is it costing us to have the prez flying all over still campaiging…seems he’s not worrried about saving any money…someone should tell him the election is over…he won…now get your ass to work

JG27 AD February 26, 2013 at 3:24 PM

Its called the “Washington Monument Strategy”. Ay time there are reductions in spending that leftists in power don’t like they shut down those federal programs/places that are most visible to the public.

Obama’s minions are all calling that the sky is falling over a whopping 2% cut over a 10 year period !!!!

Ach du Lieber !!!

R February 26, 2013 at 3:25 PM

Arizona is now releasing illegals from prison, under “supervision” in anticipation of the sequestration. They will be required to show up for court.
It’s all a bunch of bull. In what way does it make any sence to close air traffic control towers? I’m confused.

RDS February 26, 2013 at 3:27 PM

This is complete horse sh*t. These aren’t even CUTS to existing spending. They are reductions to the rate of spending INCREASES.

The Obama administration and his flunkies like Lahood are INTENTIONALLY scaring the daylights out of people with flat out LIES.

LEd February 26, 2013 at 3:27 PM

Boo-frikkin-hoo. Even under sequestration the federal government continues to grow, year-to-year, and yet somehow Armageddon is going to occur if a mild reduction in the growth of spending happens? Everybody associated with any federal dollars is being deputized right now to run to the media with scare stories of how horrible this is going to be. It’s all about the optics and the blame game. I’m highly skeptical that these problems will actually occur; maybe they will, but either way LaHood would have to say the same things, so I give his view no credence whatsoever.

Mr. Bassman February 26, 2013 at 3:27 PM

$1.2 trillion to be cut over the next decade? And how long did it take them to spend that same amount on failed “green energy” companies, or any other completely wasted project? If you want to reduce a deficit, stop spending so much! That’s what the rest of us have to do when we are low on funds coming in. It’s been almost four years now that we’ve gone without a balanced budget. That in itself should speak volumes to both sides of the isle. Here’s another idea, no balanced budget, no pay for our elected federal representatives, including the president. Lets see how fast they realize they have a spending addiction and get back to work after that.

RDS February 26, 2013 at 3:28 PM

“Instead of this manufactured crisis….”

And to PROVE that this is a coordinated Democrat talking point, George Miller just sent out an email using the EXACT SAME WORDS.

R February 26, 2013 at 3:30 PM


Some Guy February 26, 2013 at 3:32 PM

How about we send congressmen home without pay. Most aren’t really doing anything anyway…

Em Dubya February 26, 2013 at 3:33 PM

Laughable. $85B deducted from more than $3T in annual spending is going to collapse everything? We will empty people slated for deportation onto the streets, materially impact air safety, gut the military, etc, etc.

Sounds to me like $85B damn near runs the entire country. What is the other $2.9T used for then?…..

Contra Costa Taxpayer February 26, 2013 at 3:38 PM

This is horrible news! I hope this doesn’t affect my flight to… wait, I don’t use Buchanan… nobody uses Buchanan. Why are my federal tax dollars being used to fund a handful of aviation hobbyists playtime? Why don’t we charge a fee to the people that use Buchanan to cover the costs associated with keeping it operational?

The Theorist February 26, 2013 at 3:38 PM

Let’r rip. I don’t fly and haven’t since the advent of security theatre known as The Department of molestong old people and children was established.

Bring it on, once the People finally wise up to the obstructionism and partisanship that is Congress, it will just bring us one step closer to the end. Riots, revolt, descent. The New American century can finally begin and rise from the ashes of the old corrupt America.

Styles February 26, 2013 at 3:39 PM

I’m with Jim. When will this continued raising of tax’s stop? I wish I could run my bussiness the same way, oh but I can’t or I will be out of bussiness. We now work until June or even July if we purchase a large ticket item before we start even making any money for the year. For what I ask? They always seem to cut from the things that really matter and keep the so called entitlements flowing. And don’t forget the tax’s descised as fee’s like the $218.00 bill I just got from the DMV. And they want to raise the gas tax. WAKE UP PEOPLE!

jtkatec February 26, 2013 at 3:44 PM

“How about we send congressmen home without pay.” Agreed.

It’s called getting paid for a job. You are not meeting the metrics of your employment, you’re fired.

MikeT February 26, 2013 at 3:45 PM

I’m with Jim, #1. This is scare tactics and BS. Let March 1 come. There will no change in anyones life. The military will no doubt take some hits, but it is over a period of 10 years, and I am quite sure the problem will be corrected long before that. Vote this lazy bums out of office.

chicken little February 26, 2013 at 3:48 PM

The sky is falling. If we can’t cut 85 billion out of a 3.5 trillion Continuing resolution, we haven’t had a budget since 09. This Is laughable. Bring it.

Don't Censor Me Bro February 26, 2013 at 3:49 PM

Aren’t the emperor’s new clothes shiek?

Blah Blah blah February 26, 2013 at 4:00 PM

How about we just do away with all the security. My nail clipper barely cut my nail and the travel shampoo isn’t worth a damn

Always Right February 26, 2013 at 4:09 PM

Wow. No big spenders on this thread so far. There may be hope for our country after all.

It is ironic ( and somewhat moronic) that Obama created the sequester concept and now he is campaigning against it.

Julio-Antioch February 26, 2013 at 4:09 PM

And we keep electing the same ******* idiots year after year. The public deserves what they get because of whom they elect.

Economize February 26, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Ahhh…so very true LED. That is how the economy works–by feighning shortages, such as gas. Such a sad day–can’t trust anyone or anything–you can’t turn to your team and ask a question because it is all misinformation; how can you know if anything in the economy is right or not. Good Lord–do you think the government couod better spend the money on an air field- instead?

Reached My Limit February 26, 2013 at 4:13 PM

Guess what, we’ve got a senator coming up for reelection next year.
I am going to contribute to, then volunteer on campaign of her opponent.
Am tired of this teleprompter reading fear spreading excuse of a . . . .

Don February 26, 2013 at 4:15 PM

This is what the president wanted and got. Have him stay in DC and do what he was elected to do . Oh I forgot he is incapable because he is incompetent and a Chicago thug.

Ron Sauce February 26, 2013 at 4:17 PM

Close it down, another playground for the wealthy, not unlike golf courses, and this one effectively divides our city in half. I would love to be able to go from Home Depot to Lowes the short way….

The Sky Wont Fall February 26, 2013 at 4:20 PM

How many more times will George Miller get voted in ? Cutting an increase does not equal a cut but the uninformed Obama voter is to busy waiting for a check to pay attention to what going on in DC.

lg February 26, 2013 at 4:21 PM

It`s B.S!!!! Scare tactics. They waste so much money. Millions for studying goldfish, tunnels for turtles. The list goes on and on. It`s maddening and I hope more and more americans can see it for what it is. Gob bless America!

lg February 26, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Obama will make sure it hurts as much as he can so he can blame republicans.

Howard K. Mullins III February 26, 2013 at 4:25 PM

I agree with most of the previous posts.

The spending reductions are scheduled out over the next decade, they are meaningless. Cut the budget by $2T this year, and then we have something worth talking about. What is happening now is simply political gaming and means nothing to anyone but those who have sold themselves out to Obama.

I just keep finding it hard to believe that so many of my fellow citiznes cannot see what is going on around them.

I don’t care what anyone says, $16.5T in debt and the spending keeps increasing, no budget, (not that it would matter much anyway) no controls on spending and a congress that is useless, is a recipe for disaster.

How will America recover? No one knows, too many don’t care.

@17 taxpayer February 26, 2013 at 4:28 PM

The majority of air traffic control operations expenses are funded by taxes on aviation fuel. Tax is about 20 cents per gallon in addition to sales tax to pay for services. A typical business jet that flies out of Buchanan can carry between 800 to 2000 gallons of fuel.
Your misconception about a handful of people not carrying their share of the load is just that, a misconception. The airport operations are paid for by the tenants of the airport and the tower is paid for by the FAA. Fuel taxes paid to the Aviation and Airways trust fund are used to fund the FAA.

Jazzguy February 26, 2013 at 4:31 PM

It was the White House who pushed for the legislation to be passed in the first place. Do they really think we’re that stupid? It’s only 2.4%!

@Contra Costa Taxpayer February 26, 2013 at 4:41 PM

You really have no idea what you are talking about.
First, aviation fuel taxes pay for a large part of the operation of the airport. There are also county possessory taxes on all airplanes, hangars and tiedowns at the airport. Secondly, have you never noticed the number of corporate jets flying into the airport?

KJ February 26, 2013 at 4:41 PM

That would mean there would be fewer planes polluting the atmosphere. What’s wrong with that? Of course, it’ll never happen — anything that inconveniences 1%ers is a non-starter; Congress will finagle things to make sure at least Lear jets are not grounded.

Mr X February 26, 2013 at 4:41 PM

Democrats are physically unable to cut anything ever. To them, government is god and cuts are sacrilege. The debt and deficit will never be fixed with them in power. They derive their power from giving away other people’s money. Shameful..

Shuley February 26, 2013 at 4:43 PM

Let the cutting begin! Maybe the rich with their private planes can whine enough when they are inconvenienced.. who cares? Keep cutting and start paying down the debt. If we can make some progress, the reduction of interest payments alone will get us into the black quickly.

What next February 26, 2013 at 4:46 PM

It’s not Obama , it’s ALL POLITICIANS
they serve the CORPORATIONS that
rule them, and the filthy rich that own
them. They keep us divided and do what
they want! It’s right in front of our faces,
Sequestered= screwed, they will get
what they want, and we will give it to
them, like always.

I have an idea February 26, 2013 at 5:02 PM

The U.S. gives away something like $50 billion per year to other countries. Maybe we shouldn’t do that until we can afford to keep our own government running.

Anon February 26, 2013 at 5:04 PM


FYI, we do pay! Check your facts first.

And you will really care if it starts raining aluminum on your head!

Anonymous February 26, 2013 at 5:05 PM

I’m throwing the BS flag. California cities and counties have cut back. I took a 5% paycut and was glad to have a good job. What pay cuts have federal employees taken? None and they still get raises.

Mutts February 26, 2013 at 5:14 PM

Maybe his highness can cut the number of expensive trips on Air Force One. and his wife, too.

Howard K. Mullins III February 26, 2013 at 5:15 PM

What’s really sad is that “we the people” are going to be punished no matter what happens between now and the end of the week in DC.

“We the people” need to know that our government knows what’s better for us than we do and we should all do as we are told. If we don’t we will be punished. Its important for our government to punish us so we will comply with orders.

I still think that the government should work for the people, not against them as it is now. I am a rebel and damn proud to be one.

Rob February 26, 2013 at 5:22 PM

It is not possible that government spending cuts can cost any jobs.

Republicans have been telling us for decades that government spending does not create jobs.

So – how can government not spending cost anyone a job?

Elwood February 26, 2013 at 5:29 PM

God help us! A 3% cut and we’re all doomed!

Run for your lives! The sky is falling!

It’s the end of the world as we know it.

If you don’t believe me, just listen to the doomsaying fear monger in chief.

How can you tell Obama is lying? His lips move.

Problem Solved February 26, 2013 at 5:49 PM

I know how we can save $180,000 per hour, let the air out of the tires on Air Force One and the backup plane. Then Pawn the teleprompter until national debt is paid off.

bamamath February 26, 2013 at 5:55 PM

“So – how can government not spending cost anyone a job?”
Remember, this comes from people that INVENTED . . . “Created or Saved”.

Em Dubya February 26, 2013 at 6:08 PM

For the couple of posts saying private aviation is for the horrible wealthy:

You’re entitled to your opinion. Go spend some time at Buchanan and look at all of the businesses there providing decent jobs to mechanics, pilots, etc. who aren’t those horrible, awful plane owners but who have livelihoods based on the presence and healthy operation of the air field.


Big Al February 26, 2013 at 6:10 PM

Small Airports provide services to people with lots of money to fly their toys. Stop funding these luxurious perks. Pilots need a fast trac transponder on their windscreens.

J. February 26, 2013 at 6:12 PM

The Sequescastration will also close down the Concord Port Chicago Magazine Memorial Federal Monument. The Memorial will lose $9000 in annual funding.

Connie Dobbs February 26, 2013 at 7:36 PM

So fly into Sacramento?

Anon February 26, 2013 at 8:22 PM

@big al
Ask the airlines how much they pay. And they are one of the biggest users of air traffic control.

Guess what? They do not pay! The passengers do on a ticket tax that the airlines get to hold until they file it.

KevO February 26, 2013 at 9:34 PM

Just take a look at who we give foreign aid to. Now that’s were we could save some money.

Amy February 27, 2013 at 12:27 AM

Cut, cut, cut and drill, baby, drill!

Don't Censor Me Bro February 27, 2013 at 3:19 AM

The TRUTH is, the sequester was B. Hussein ObLAMEr’s idea.

He endorsed it.

He passed it with votes from his party.

Don't Censor Me Bro February 27, 2013 at 3:22 AM

Current legislators are able to cut 20% of their budgets…
without laying off any people…

Don't Censor Me Bro February 27, 2013 at 3:24 AM

Reducing budget increases by about 2% = cuts that severely impact people….

Oh, I see…

jose February 27, 2013 at 6:52 AM

These made up crisis could be the cause of Global Warming you know…!.
Wait till you see them sqeeling towards the end of March…….sos, different month.

Pleasant Jenny February 27, 2013 at 6:53 AM

So what? All we ever see and hear over our heads are private jets and the occasional flight school plane. Good riddance.

me February 27, 2013 at 7:23 AM

If Obama is to be blamed for this…
Why is it that more REPUBLICANS than Democrats voted for it?

@George Miller February 27, 2013 at 7:44 AM

You are a hack politician. Read all the responses above. It’s no secret. You are what we loathe.

We struggle to feed our families. You take it away.

The Contra Costa Times will promote your message as will ABC and others, but we are not as dumb as you think.

Enjoy it while it lasts. It can’t go on forever, but those of us that see right through you will remember forever, you and your record of taking away our American Dream one “cut” at a time.

Have a nice lunch today, while I work through mine.

JustMe February 27, 2013 at 7:56 AM

The sequester was put there so that both parties would come to a compromise. Thing is, Congress is so dysfunctional, either telling us what they won’t do, or too busy listening to lobbyists and special interests, that we can’t get anything done.

Congress are the only ones that can prevent the sequester. Congress are the only ones that can create or alter law. Congress is our only hope on this matter.

JimmyJam February 27, 2013 at 8:19 AM

What we need is someone who halls balls to run this country…HILLARY where are you!!!!!

Dennis February 27, 2013 at 8:29 AM

So if 9 groundskeepers can maintain public property every 7 days, then 7 groundskeepers can do it every 9 days. Why do we lose an air traffic controller, or a cop, or a firefighter, instead of 2 groundskeepers? Oh wait! If 9 paper pushers on the government payroll can do a week’s worth of paper pushing in 1 week, can’t 7 push that same paper in 9 days? Considering they have 2 less paper pushers’ payroll, vacation, benefits, and health plans papers to push, it should take them less than 9 days, right?

Dennis February 27, 2013 at 8:35 AM

How about capping the salaries/ retirement of all Feds at the same level as the President? How about capping the state employees at the Governor’s salary? Goodbye $300,000 MDUSD admins, Fire Chiefs, Police captains.
What? The state and Federal payrolls would be cut in half? Politicians would leave public service jobs in droves, if they couldn’t get wealthy on our tax money!

Dennis February 27, 2013 at 8:40 AM

So we have a drawbridge, with 1 operator and 4 toll collectors. You choose: lay off the operator, or 1 of the 4 toll collectors?

( phone call to Miller by the operator) When I clean out my locker and leave tonite, do you want me to leave the bridge UP or DOWN?

Connie Dobbs February 27, 2013 at 8:52 AM

#66 In Singapore, visiting her money.

Laura Zah February 27, 2013 at 8:55 AM

Hillary. Yep, she’s the answer. If she can run an embassy in Benghazi it should be easy for her to “run this country” too.
As to the question “where is she?” the answer is she is laying low until the whole Benghazi thing has blown over & nobody is asking anymore questions (especially those pesky relatives of the people who died for her negligence) .

Dr. Jellyfinger February 27, 2013 at 9:10 AM

I thought that at airfields that have no air traffic controller the pilots simply use a common frequency to alert other air traffic when they are approaching for landing or taking off. They are not exactly stacking up & orbiting Buchanan Field waiting their turn to land either.

The Mamba February 27, 2013 at 9:19 AM

I have zero cares to give whether or not people can fly out of Buchanan Fields.

CatWoman February 27, 2013 at 9:48 AM

I remember that movie too-Dr. Jellyfingers, the langoliers, where they flew into an empty airport with no accidents–but they came back to the real world–where everyone is in a rush and most are not courteous. Can you imagine a bunch of snooty, self-rightous bastards trying to land without an air-traffic controller–just because they feel entitled to be first?
lol 🙂

Enough Already February 27, 2013 at 10:16 AM

Oh Well. . .if it comes to this – so be it!

LorieStories February 27, 2013 at 10:32 AM

“The Sky is falling!” Oh that would be airplanes.

ANON February 27, 2013 at 11:13 AM

I believe that the Federal salaries are in fact capped. I think it is no more than your Congressman or woman. God knows they do not want you making more than them!

mika February 27, 2013 at 11:40 AM

I think I can safely assume less than 2 percent of Claycord even uses the airport. We just get stuck listening to all the noise from the private jets and planes. It won’t hurt us to close it down, I don’t have much to feel sorry for those wealthy enough to (1) own a private plane and (2) can afford to pay for 800 gallons of fuel for a Sunday flight.

Lori February 27, 2013 at 11:57 AM

Oh great…. now how is Santa going to parachute in???

Antler February 27, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Is the really important emergency medical helicopter base still at Buchanan Field?

chicken little February 27, 2013 at 7:20 PM


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