Compatible airport land-use plans under way in San Diego

August 21, 2008

In a recent trip to San Diego, I received a briefing on the status of efforts by the San Diego Regional Airport Authority to create compatible land-use plans for airports in the county.

Contrary to popular belief, S.B.10, sponsored by Sen. Christine Kehoe, did not transfer airport land-use planning responsibilities from the San Diego Regional Airport Authority to the San Diego County Association of Governments as had been thought. Kehoe amended her bill last year in the closing hours of the session to modify the authority’s board of directors and makeup of that board by appointment.

The airport land-use commission (ALUC) has responsibility for developing comprehensive land-use plans for 16 airports in the county: six rural, five urban, four military, and one commercial. The ALUC has adopted plans for the six rural airports, all of which are owned by San Diego County. The county has not yet officially implemented those plans. That action is expected in early 2009.

Plans for two military airports are planned to be adopted on Sept. 4. The plans for two Navy airports are on hold pending action by the military.

The plans for the five urban airports have a number of technical issues that must be resolved before they can proceed. The ALUC staff is requesting policy guidance from the board at the Sept. 4 meeting. Airports affected are Montgomery and Brown fields, McClellan-Palomar, Gillespie Field, and Oceanside Airport. It is likely that the plans for these five airports will then be adopted in spring 2009. The policy guidance being sought by staff from the ALUC commissioners deals with airspace protection, overflights, and noise.

Land-use plans for Lindbergh Field are deferred until the Urban Transportation Plan has been developed and approved.

There are six “stakeholder” groups that participate in developing consensus recommendations to the ALUC. These group members include: airport operators, city planning departments, developers, landowners and their attorneys, aviation representatives, community groups, and military representatives. The advisory groups must reach consensus on any specific topic being discussed. Majority or minority opinions are not acceptable and will not be advanced to the ALUC. The process has been under way for more than two years.

Montgomery Field AOPA Airport Support Network Volunteer Rick Beach is a member of the stakeholders’ technical advisory committee. He is optimistic that all airports in the county will soon have appropriate comprehensive land-use plans that protect these airports into the future. Beach has attended just over 100 of these meetings, providing valuable information from the pilot perspective.

Local pilots are encouraged to monitor the progress of the plans for their airport. Progress can be monitored by visiting the authority’s Web site.

Bill Dunn is AOPA’s vice president of local airport advocacy.