We won! After a year and a half, the FAA has ruled that the County of Riverside violated Federal law when it closed the glider runway and prohibited gliders from taking off on the main runway at Hemet-Ryan Airport.
Since they have accepted Federal grant money in the past, they must not discriminate against any type of aviation activity unless there's a safety issue. FAA ruled that gliders can operate safely, recommended some procedures, and ordered two-minute windows for winch launching, which we did not even ask for!
The County must submit a plan, negotiate in good faith, and consult with FAA, or they will be denied future Federal funding. Unfortunately the FAA ruled that the County does not have to pay costs or damages incurred by the clubs and private owners that were displaced.
Our club, the Orange County Soaring Association, filed the complaint. We've been fine-tuning our winch operations at several other locations and hope to return soaring to Hemet-Ryan in the near future. First we have to see how the County reacts, file an operations plan, etc. Stay tuned!