PORT HUENEME : Commission Won't Oppose Navy Plan

The California Coastal Commission has decided not to oppose a Navy proposal to fly jets toward Silver Strand Beach, saying the plan would not harm endangered species or conflict with state law as originally thought.

In a Sept. 8 letter to the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Port Hueneme, commission officials said they objected to the Navy's proposal because the low-flying jets could strike birds such as the endangered brown pelican, bother sea mammals and alter shipping traffic. They were responding to letters from the California Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Department of Commerce opposing the Navy's plan.

But the Navy has since agreed to use Lear jets for all flights, reduce maximum speeds to 375 m.p.h. and move the flight paths to avoid the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Commission officials say the proposal now conforms with state coastal laws.

The Navy is trying to obtain approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly jets toward a ship-simulation laboratory at Silver Strand Beach.

Under the plan, the jets would dart toward the five-story laboratory to simulate missile strikes on a warship. Many of the beach area's 6,000 residents have complained that the flights will endanger their lives, lower their property values and subject them to unpleasant noise levels.

The Navy has argued that the testing must occur at Silver Strand because the $100-million building is a huge investment and the fragile equipment it contains would cost too much to move.

The Ventura County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to write a letter to the FAA endorsing the Navy's plan.

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