Development plans put homes, offices too close to airport

December 11, 2008

Plans to build a residential and office complex less than 700 feet from the approach end of Runway 30 at California’s Half Moon Bay Airport is an incompatible use of the property, AOPA told San Mateo County officials.

AOPA filed comments Dec. 4 in response to the county’s notice of preparation of an environmental impact report for the development. The Big Wave Wellness Center and Office Park would provide housing and employment opportunities for low-income, developmentally disabled children and adults. It would include 45 dwelling units and four three-story office buildings on a 19.5-acre plot of land.

But the site falls within several different protected areas, including the runway protection zone for the airport. The California Land Use Planning Handbook prohibits building any dwelling units within those areas, AOPA told county planners. In addition, as the airport sponsor, the county is obligated to protect the airport from development that could hinder its operations or limit its usefulness under the federal Airport Improvement Program and land grant requirements.

“Local involvement by pilots is important as the environmental impact process continues,” said Heidi Williams, AOPA senior director of airports. “It is a good opportunity to encourage county officials to choose more compatible uses for the land.”