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Palomar Airport Expansion Issues: Should Residents Near the Airport Gripe About Expansion? Blog #4

Living Up to Promises

Today, we move beyond the Palomar Airport problem-plagued landfills, the topic of Blogs 2 & 3.   Let’s give the FAA and County a chance to respond to the issues raised.  

Today’s Question: Should Residents Gripe About Palomar Airport Expansion?

After my first blog, my email (benderbocan@gmail.com) received a question:  “Will my blogs be balanced?”  My response: “When I can say that the FAA or County is doing something right at Palomar, I will.”

The problem is that the FAA and County make it darn hard to say nice things.  

For instance, you will often hear the FAA, County, and some residents near Palomar say: “You can’t gripe about Palomar Airport safety, noise, traffic, or pollution.”   You bought a house near the airport.  What did you expect?   The implication is that everyone knows that Palomar can expand unconditionally.

What Expansion Should Near-Palomar Airport Home Owners Expect Based on the Public Records?

What do you find in the public records about Palomar Airport if you house hunt in Carlsbad?

You find Carlsbad Municipal Code §21.53.015 .  It says Carlsbad voters have the right to vote on Palomar Airport expansion if expansion requires amendments to the Carlsbad general plan and/or zoning ordinances.

You find Carlsbad Conditional Use Permit [CUP] 172.  By it, Carlsbad allows the County to operate Palomar Airport only as a “Basic Transport General Aviation Airport.”   A “Basic Transport General Aviation Airport” serves private pilots; helicopters related to police, medical aid, and small businesses; very limited commuter passengers shuttling to or from San Diego or Los Angeles, and small corporate jets supporting local businesses.   

You find the following Carlsbad August 24, 2012 comment on the California Pacific Airlines Environmental Assessment that evaluates new service at Palomar Airport:

             “Longstanding city policy has been to support CRQ [Palomar Airport] as a general aviation facility.  Carlsbad General Land Use Element objective B.1 (Special Planning Considerations – Airport) is to 'encourage the continued operation of McClellan-Palomar Airport as a general aviation airport.' The proposed passenger airline service with planes seating 70 or more passengers could conflict with the City of Carlsbad’s Land Use Element Objective to support general aviation.”

Promises, Promises

In short, since 1979 the County has promised near-Palomar house buyers that Palomar Airport was a limited use airport. That is what the County agreed to when it accepted Carlsbad CUP 172.

So long as Palomar Airport remains a limited use airport, there is no need for an 1100-foot-runway extension or for a 1000 “Runway Safety Area” over a closed methane emitting landfill.

The FAA and County now want to renege on 33 years of promises to the citizens of Carlsbad and surrounding areas.   So yes, near-airport residents s have a right to gripe about Palomar Airport expansion. 

As the ongoing Carlsbad “Community Vision” statement notes, let’s maintain “the small town feel and beach community character” of Carlsbad.

Next Week:  Fair & Balanced: The Pros & Cons of Palomar Expansion: The Fly in the Ointment

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Donald Sonck November 12, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Thanks for the information Raymond and I agree, it's awfully difficult to say nice things about the FAA and particularly the County of San Diego when the topic is Palomar Airport. I've attended a good number of Palomar Airport Advisory Committee meetings and they are a joke when it comes to listening to and taking action on residents' concerns. The people on that board, as well as the County officials involved, treat the public as a nuisance and their own ambitions as prioirty one. Very unlike our Carlsbad city officials, whom I hold in very high regard, Love your blogs; keep 'em up!
Gordon November 14, 2012 at 01:44 AM
I spent some 37+ years in the aerospace industry, including the military, commercial and general aviation sectors. In matters concerning the Carlsbad Airport I have encountered pilots, operators and agencies that are unbelievably arrogant, insensitive and uncaring about their neighbors and the community. Some of these entities project a mindset that "it's my airplane/business/airline and I'll fly whenever I damn well feel like it and expand the airport to suit me with total disregard of the wishes of the community." People who bought in the general airport area did so with the understanding that it was a GA facility. They did not expect, considering the airport layout, that a runway extension was in the cards and that commuter aircraft with passenger capacties of more that 20 would be operating there. I think Mr. Sonck is right in his assessment of the PAAC members feelings about the general public. Maybe we need to put the airport expansion plans on the ballot and really find out how the citizens of Carlsbad feel about it.
Bruce November 15, 2012 at 09:43 PM
I fully agree with the comments above. Palomar was never intended to be more than a GA facility. But here we are watching it turn into a regional airport...no, make that a regional jetport. The latest Embraer ERJ-170 with a 70 passenger capability is just the start of a trend that will grow to larger and larger aircraft with longer operating hours and less consideration for residents. Palomar Airport has never been a "good neighbor" to the community, and has placed complaints on the back burner until they self-extinguished. The "Voluntary" noise abatement system at Palomar doesn't work and the airport knows it, but hides behind the FAA's antiquated ruling that the airport didn't need a mandatory noise plan due to scope of operations years ago. The thunder of turbine aircraft in the middle of the night is NOT music to the ears to anyone, save the businesses making money from those flights. And explaining that those aircraft must depart at strange hours to assure clearance through restricted airspace may occasionally be true, but not when their destination shows up as another California airport a hundred miles distant. It's damn the residents and hooray for the inconsiderate pilots and companies who fly from Palomar. Don't count on Carlsbad ever regulating this in a way that is favorable to the residents unless it's through a proposition on a ballot or a class action lawsuit. Politicians onlty take notice when they get hiit with something at the voting booth or their wallet!

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