What are APZs and How Will They Affect Coupeville?

What are APZs - Map of Crash Zones around OLF Coupeville

Coupeville Community Allies (CCA) presented “the ABCs of APZs” in Coupeville on May 15th, explaining what is likely to happen should Growler expansion result in the imposition of Accident Prevention Zones (APZ’s) around the Coupeville OLF similar to those around other military airbases, e.g. NAS Oceana, Virginia Beach. The bottom line: APZs would end community life in Coupeville and Central Whidbey.

Navy regulations “require” the establishment of APZs when flight paths use exceeds 5,000 operations annually. Currently, operational limits at the OLF do not exceed that threshold; most expansion options would.

Consider the costs of APZs on the Navy’s Oceana model. The only current use that would continue here would be farming. All other uses would be restricted. The county seat, hospital, bus depot, and schools would all have to be relocated. About 20,000 residents would be forced out and all tourist businesses shut down. Ebey’s Reserve, the first of its kind, would be eviscerated.

Who pays for this massive upheaval? Neither the Navy nor the federal government! Island County tax payers will foot the bill. Our government will use their eminent domain power to condemn and purchase, with taxpayer funds, private property within the AP zones.  Afterwards, remaining Island County property owners and taxpayers will pay higher taxes to make up for the reduction of the tax base. No one will avoid the tax consequences, no matter where you live. We will all suffer.

And if you think this is an exaggeration that couldn’t possibly happen here, keep in mind it DID happen in Virginia Beach. A variation happened in Oak Harbor.

The CCA presentation left many with a sense of helplessness. We are accustomed to the Navy doing whatever it wants under the guise of national security. So why fight if you can’t win? Because we can win! This past week voters in Burlington, Vermonters rejected an F-35 basing plan despite support for the Air Force’s plan from nearly all political and business leaders, including both of Vermont’s senators.

Ask yourself: are Coupeville, Ebey’s Reserve and Central Whidbey worth fighting for? You bet!

Around our region citizen groups have become active in opposition to the expanding Growler training. Get involved. Contact your representatives and vote this November for candidates who will represent us. It’s time our leaders hear it load and clear: “enough is enough!” Growler training must be moved to where it’s safe and appropriate and where communities won’t be devastated.

Paula Spina, Director

Citizens of the Ebey’s Reserve (COER)


  1. You claim, “The county seat, hospital, bus depot, and schools would all have to be relocated. About 20,000 residents would be forced out and all tourist businesses shut down. Ebey’s Reserve, the first of its kind, would be eviscerated.”

    Captain Moore recently wrote, “There is no intent to force the closure or relocation of vital government, community, medical and school institutions. We are cognizant of the economic and cultural drivers in the Puget Sound area and Island County, and we will ensure these are considered in our final Record of Decision.

    “After the Record of Decision, our intent is to conduct an AICUZ study that will provide guidance for future land use decisions.”

    Just wanted to clear the air Paula. That said, if there is a BRAC level attack on NAS Whidbey Island like there was on NAS Oceana or if the State Board of Health all the sudden gets land use powers you can expect something on the lines of So by all means COER, keep COERing on. No, please.

    Oh and… while you keep COERing on… The Donald loves eminent domain. President Donald J. Trump to a friendly reporter a few years ago, “If somebody has a property in the middle of a 7,000 job factory, as an example, that’s going to move into the town – but they need this one corner of this property, and it’s going to provide 7,000 jobs in a community that’s dying, of which we have many in this country, OK? I am for that.”

    Something to think about in all your COERing on. No fan of The Donald, but… do the math. Citizens of AMERICA need APZs that are humane and restricted.


  2. Sharon Buck

    Thanks for posting this. This is of concern for all who live on Whidbey as well as in neighboring areas. Citizens have a voice and they must be heard and their very real concerns responded to.

  3. Austin

    is anyone able to clarify what is meant by Flight Path 14 (unsafe)? I can find no other references to this. Does this suggest some type of low-altitude, risky operations in areas covered by that flight path? We love Whidbey – trying to learn more about this topic…. thanks in advance to anyone with insights. =)

    1. Admin

      A good discussion of this flight path and other issues about the APZs is here: In a nutshell, the Navy says the turns are too tight for safety.

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